Egypt, who were determined to make a point after missing out on a place at the World Cup, earned a modicum of revenge when they crushed eight-man Algeria in the semi-finals of the African Nations Cup.
Mohamed Zidan had promised that the world would see who was the better team, and so it proved as the Pharaohs exacted revenge in style with a 4-0 humbling of their traditional rivals.
Egypt went ahead when Algerian defender Halliche mishit a clearance and was forced to bring down Emad Meteeb who was clean through. Referee, Koffi Codjia, awarded a penalty and showed a second yellow card. Hosny Abd Rabou converted the penalty and Algeria fell apart. Zidan was impressive throughout, scoring the second goal with a precise shot midway through the second half.
In a frantic final quarter, Portsmouth’s Nadir Belhadj was sent off for a violent lunge at Ahmed El Mohamady. He now faces the prospect of missing the first World Cup game, against Slovenia. Mohamed Abdelshafi then clipped a third Egypt goal from a tight angle, Chaouchi was shown a red card for taking a swing at Mohamed Nagui and Nagui scored a fourth.
“Today we played our game and the world saw who we are,” Egypt boss Hassan Shehata said after the game.
Shehata’s players have impressed on their way to the final despite being without the services of Mohamed Abou-Treika and Amr Zaki through injury.
“We always try to play our game with the available players. And I think we succeeded,” he added.
Egypt assistant coach Chaouki Gharib said: “We’ve played against three World Cup qualifiers in our five matches here, we’ve beaten them all and scored ten goals against all of them.
“It’s thanks to our strategy, we know how to win games and how to deal with our rivals. We wish Algeria well at the World Cup because they are representing the Arab world.”
Algeria coach Rabah Saadane blamed Benin referee Koffi Codjia for Halliche’s red card.
He said: “The referee sent off our best defender, it was free fall after that. You have to look at the reality, it was the referee who turned the game upside down.”
As they protested about Abd Rabou’s stuttered run-up to take the penalty, their goalkeeper, Faouzi Chaouchi, seemed to aim a head-butt at Codjia.
“Today we played against Egypt and the referee,” said the Rangers and Algeria defender Madjid Bougherra.
“He was rubbish. Sometimes you see this in Africa. You cannot believe it when you see this on the pitch. But we are going to the World Cup. That is our consolation and there we can enjoy it because they have good referees.”
Egypt stride on, unbeaten in 18 games at the Africa Cup of Nations, and only Ghana, who beat Nigeria 1-0 earlier, stand between them and an unprecedented third consecutive title.