Egypt s goalkeeper Mohamed Abogabal reacts in a penalty shoot-out during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 final football match between Senegal and Egypt at Stade d Olembe in Yaounde on February 6, 2022. AFP
The Pharaohs lost 4-2 on penalties following a 0-0 draw to miss out on a record-extending eighth crown.
Abou-Gabal, who was only drafted in after first-choice keeper Mohamed El-Shennawi sustained an injury in the round of 16 clash against Cote d'Ivoire, was instrumental in helping Egypt reach the final.
His spot-kick heroics saw Egypt defeat Cote d'Ivoire and Cameroon (in the semi final) and he was also impressive against Senegal, keeping them at bay with a series of superb stops.
He blocked an early penalty from Sadio Mane and denied three near-certain goals from substitute Bamba Dieng in extra time. He also saved a penalty from Bouna Sarr in the shootout but it was enough.
"We deserved to win the game. It is so difficult … It was the dream of all the team," a tearful Abou-Gabal told beIN Sports after the game.
"Being the man of the match is useless for me after losing the title."
Egypt will still have a chance to make amends when they clash with Senegal in a decisive two-legged World Cup qualifying playoff next month for a place in the Qatar finals.
"We will qualify for the World Cup in Senegal," Abou-Gabal added, referring to the second leg away from home.