[AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS] Revenge was sweet for Egypt, which crushed Algeria, 4-0, in the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations in Benguela and kept its bid alive for a third straight African championship. Algeria finished with eight players when Rafik Halliche, Nader Belhadj and goalie Faouzi Chaouchi were ejected in separate incidents, and afterwards the Algeria coach, Rabah Saadane, blamed the loss on a plan to get the Desert Foxes.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
saluted the Pharaohs' "remarkable performance" that came two months
after their loss to Algeria in a playoff game knocked them out of the
2010 World Cup and touched off rioting in Cairo.
Halliche's second yellow came on a foul that resulted in a penalty
converted by Hosni Abd Rabou
in the 39th minute.
Mohamed Zidan added to Egypt's
lead in the 65th minute, and substitutes Mohamed Abdelshafi and Mohamed Nagui contributed late
Belhadj's straight red card for a two-footed challenge could keep him
out of the opening game of the World Cup against Slovenia on June 13.
Chaouchi also made an early exit for a second yellow card, though he
could have been sent off for his vehement protest of the first-half
Beforehand, Zidan said the game meant everything to the Egyptians.
"It is a matter of life and death," he said. "It is like a war for both
teams, and for us it is a chance to show that we are the better team
and deserve to be at the World Cup."
The win extended Egypt's unbeaten streak in the Africa Cup of Nations
to a record 18 games.
Afterward, Saadane preferred to look ahead to the World Cup.
"This is a young team," he said. "Experience here will prepare us very
well for the World Cup."
Saadane blamed the loss on Benin referee Koffi Codjia.
"The referee decided the outcome," he said. "There was a plan against
us when he gave our best defender [Halliche] a red card for what was
not a penalty. And when we had to play with three men down, it was
impossible to come back against a team like Egypt, who play the ball
around very well."