Tuesday, September 3, 2013

3 September 2011 - The Pharaohs Fall

On 3 September 2011, Egypt's bid for a fourth straight Africa Cup of Nations title ended with a loss to Sierra Leone during qualification for the 2012 tournament.

The tournament's most successful team, Egypt has lifted the cup seven times, including three straight in 2006, 2008, and 2010. Sierra Leone, meanwhile, had qualified for the tournament only twice before and exited in the first round both times.

Playing in qualification group G, the two teams played to a 1-1 draw in September 2010, the first qualification match for both of them. Egypt followed it with two losses and a draw, while Sierra Leone got a win, a draw, and a loss. The results meant that by the time they met for their rematch, Egypt were at the bottom of the group table, six points behind leaders Niger with two games left. With only the top team advancing, the Pharaohs needed to beat Sierra Leone and Niger in their last two games to have any hope of reaching the tournament.

Sierra Leone hosted the game at the National Stadium in Freetown and took a 14th-minute lead with an own-goal from Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny. Striker Marwan Mohsen equalized in first-half stoppage time and the match remained level at 1-1 deep into the second half. But in the 89th minute, the referee awarded a penalty to the hosts, which Mohamed Bangura converted to put Sierra Leone up 2-1. That remained the final score, ending Egypt's chances of defending their title.

Egypt's elimination opened the door for a new champion and Zambia emerged as the surprise winners.

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