Benguela: Egypt set up what is certain to be a highly-charged semi-final against Algeria at the African Nations Cup when record-breaker Ahmed Hassan turned villain to hero in a 3-1 victory over Cameroon Monday.
Nigeria saw off Zambia 5-4 in a penalty shootout after a goalless draw in the day’s other quarter-final in Lubango and will take on Ghana for a place in Sunday’s final in a clash of two World Cup-bound teams.
The last four encounter between the double defending champions and Algeria will also have a special flavour with the Egyptians out for revenge after the Maghreb side pipped them to a ticket to South Africa last year.
In Benguela, Egypt skipper Hassan earned an African record 170th cap but there was little to celebrate for the midfielder when he deflected an Achille Emana corner into his own net in the 25th minute.
Hassan redeemed himself eight minutes before the break with a 35-metre powerful free kick that bounced before Idriss Carlos Kameni before finding the back of the net.
After the game ended 1-1 after 90 minutes, Mohamed Nagui intercepted a terrible back pass from Geremi to his keeper and coolly slotted home in the first minute of extra time.
Three minutes later, Hassan ensured Egypt would extend their record unbeaten run in the Nations Cup to 17 games when his free kick, partially blocked by Kameni, bounced back off the woodwork but was adjudged to have crossed the line.
Television replays indicated otherwise.
Cameroon finished the game with 10 men after centre back Aurelien Chedjou was sent off for a professional foul with nine minutes left.
Chedjou had been preferred in the starting line-up to Rigobert Song, whose run of 36 successive Nations Cup finals matches stretching back to 1996 was ended.
Thursday’s Algeria against Egypt tie in Benguela is certain to raise security concerns after violence marred the two World Cup qualifiers between the two teams last November.
The Algeria team bus was stoned by angry fans in Cairo and post-game clashes injured 32 after Egypt forced a playoff with a 2-0 win. The playoff in Khartoum was also disrupted.
In Lubango, Nigeria had to dig deep to see off footballing minnows Zambia, who are 76th in the FIFA rankings but had advanced from a group featuring Cameroon, Tunisia and Gabon.
The Super Eagles were dominated in the second half and finished with 10 men after Onyekachi Apam was sent off after picking up a second yellow card in the 106th minute.
Zambia had their best chance two minutes later but Noah Chivuta’s 30-metre strike was tipped over his own bar by Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.
Enyeama was the hero in the shoot-out, denying Thomas Nyirenda by stretching down to his right before netting the winning spot-kick.