I had a feeling I was going to save final two penalties: Egypt hero El-Hadary

Egypt are through to the Nations Cup final, thanks to a stunning display throughout regular time and shootout from legendary keeper Essam El-Hadary

Omar Zaazou , Thursday 2 Feb 2017,
Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary reacts during a penalty shoot out at the end of the African Cup of Nations semifinal soccer match between Burkina Faso and Egypt at the Stade de l'Amitie, in Libreville, Gabon, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017. Egypt defeated Burkins Faso 4-3 in a penalty shoot out after the game ended tied 1-1 AP

Egypt hero and legendary keeper Essam El-Hadary had an inner feeling that he was going to succeed in saving the decisive final two penalties, he said on Wednesday after playing a crucial role in lifting his side to the African Nations Cup final following a 4-3 shootout win over Burkina Faso in Liberville.

Following a 1-1 regular-time draw with Burkina Faso after Egypt had taken a second-half lead through AS Roma star Mohamed Salah, both teams headed into penalties as the extra-time ended with the same scoreline.

With Egyptians expecting El-Hadary - who produced some superb saves to prevent Egypt from conceding more than one goal - to continue his excellent display in the shootouts, the 44-year-old keeper failed to save the first three.

The ex-Ahly and Zamalek man, however, still proved the difference, blocking the final two penalties from Burkina keeper Herve Koffi and Bertrand Traore to lift the seven-time African champions to the final. 

"I had a feeling that I was going to save the final two penalties, wasn't really sure about the first three actually," El-Hadary told beIN Sports channel after the game.

"When we headed to the penalty shootouts, our 2006 title victory (which Egypt settled through another penalty shootout win over Ivory Coast in the final) crossed my mind.

"We played the game in quite difficult circumstances, playing our second game just 48 hours after facing a strong side in Morocco. The humidity also was terrible.

"Moreover, we have numerous injury absences; we hope Mohamed Elneny and Mohamed Abdel-Shafi would be available for the final.

"Hats off to all the players and management for their combative spirit, their insistence and great determination," he added. 

El-Hadary was key to Egypt's three consecutive Nations Cup titles under former boss Hassan Shehata who started the treble in 2006, a tournament that had similarly seen the keeper save two penalties from Ivory Coast stars Didier Drogba and Bacary Kone.

Egypt, who feature at the Cup of Nations for the first time since last claiming the title in 2010, will face the winner of the match between Ghana and Cameroon in the other semi-final on Thursday.

The final will take place on Sunday.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)


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