By DEWAH Fabrice TEH
Sports writer, Kick442.com-Cameroon
Egyptian football legend, Essam El Hadary has bagged yet another record-extending achievement with Egypt’ senior men’s national football team and Africa in the continent’s flagship football competition, the Africa Cup of Nations.
The ace Pharaohs keeper on Thursday February 3, 2022, became the first player both as keeper and on-field player, to reach the final of six Africa Cup of Nations editions both as player and member of the technical bench.
These, after Egypt’s qualification to the final of the 33rd edition of the event after the Pharaohs semifinal win over Cameroon on Thursday February 3, 2022.
The 49-year-old played five AFCON finals with the Pharaohs of Egypt as player.
The man-mountain former Al Ahly keeper was part of Egypt’s 4th AFCON title winning squad in 1998 in Burkina Faso where Egyptian trainer, Mahmoud El Goury led the North Africans to a 2 nil triumph over then defending champions, the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in the final to clinch Egypt’s first crown in the competition in over 15 years.
He manned the goalkeeping area as seat-in keeper to then Zamalek shot-stopper, Nayed El Sayed who was voted Best Goalkeeper of the tournament.
Essam El Hadary was an integral part of the Pharaohs’ historic run of winning three successive AFCON titles in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
He came out as best goalkeeper during all three editions in 2006 at home, 2008 in Ghana and 2010 in Angola having displayed great goalkeeping skills to silence Africa’s finest forwards in the likes of Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o, Ivory Coast’s Didier Drogba and Ghana’s Junior Agogo amongst others.
The keeper who had 130 appearances for Egypt in an international career that spanned 22 years from 1996 to 2018, was one of Head Coach Hassan Shehata’s must-go-to players during all three editions.
At age 44, Essam powered Egypt to the final of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon. The keeper kept four clean sheets during the tournament.
He also saved two Burkina Faso penalties in the semifinal of the competition with the keeper who came in as seat-in goalkeeper, went forward to being Egypt’s key player in the event.
Fast forward in 2022, Essam El Hadary under Portuguese lead trainer, Carlos Quieros, helped Egypt qualify for the final of the 33r edition of the AFCON as the team’s goalkeeper trainer.
His legendary mastery of the goalkeeping art inspired Egypt’s stand in goalkeeper, Zamalek’s Mohamed Abogal in saving two of Cameroon’s four penalties in the semifinals where the Pharaohs humbled the Indomitable Lions 3-1 after post match penalties at the Yaounde Olembe Stadium on Thursday.
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