Egypt came into the match knowing that they were one win away from going into the history books as the only team to lift the AFCON title three times in a row. Meanwhile, the Ghanaians were in the title match for the first time since 1992 and prepared to give everything to take home their fifth continental championship.
The Pharaohs were forced to make changes in their lineup as Fathy was moved to the center of defense and Ghaly was brought on to replace the suspended Fathallah. Both Moawad and Meteb were maintained despite some worries about their fitness. Meanwhile, Rajevac maintained his eleven that eliminated Nigeria in the semis since the injured Richard Kingson was also passed fit on the eve of the game.
The final pitting the team with the oldest average age and the youngest one at the tournament got underway with the West Africans kicking off the proceedings. Ghana was clearly intent on showing that they were ready to go toe to toe with defending champions but their pressure in the early going did not create them any opportunities.
In the 7th minute they conceded their first corner but Meteb could not get on the end of the ensuing cross and the danger was cleared. The Ghanaians responded by forcing a corner of their own after Asamoah Gyan hit the wall with a free kick attempt.
With neither team wanting to concede an early goal, it was a cagey match but Ghana looked better than the Pharaohs who were still trying to find holes in a well organized defense. Ahmed Hassan was reduced to trying his luck from long range on two occasions but both shots were well clear of the target.
Meanwhile, Andre Ayew was leading his team’s offensives capably, showing off his speed and skill in the process. Ghana’s left footed midfield maestro Asamoah also struck from 35 yards in the 23rd but El Hadhary was equal to the effort.
Hassan Shehata’s men eventually started seeing more of the ball in midfield but were still struggling mightily to get past Ghana’s last line of defense and creating clear cut opportunities. With solutions on the ground hard to come by, they resorted to ineffective crosses emanating mostly from the right side. With that dynamic prevailing, the half ended scoreless.
Egypt began the second half with more intent but once again it was Ghana who were more incisive with their counters that have become a hallmark of their participation at this tournament. Opoku obtained a free kick in the 53rd minute which was shot by Gyan who saw the ball sail narrowly over the crossbar.
Shortly thereafter, some clever buildup play by the Blackstars led to a free look at goal for Ayew but he also was unable to hit the target from outside the box. Looking for some solutions, Shehata brought on Abdelshafi for Moawad in the 57th.
Things came alive in the 67th minute when Asamoah dribbled gracefully past three opponents before seeing his effort crash against an onrushing defender. As a result, a rare counter materialized for Egypt on the other end but the defense was able to close down Meteb at the last moment. The Pharaohs then had a penalty shout waved off by the Malian referee after Hassan fell while trying to head a cross.
Shehata decided use his second substitution by bringing on the tournaments leading scorer, Mohamed Nagy Geddo, for Meteb in the 70th minute. Nevertheless, it was Rajavac’s side that was having an easier time creating chances. Gyan got a free kick effort on target but El Hadhary parried it out of play and then Inkoom put a good cross across goal that was not taking advantage of by his team-mates.
Then in the 85th minute the West Africans were made to pay for not having capitalized on their many opportunities when supersub Geddo and Zidan played a marvelous one two that ended with the Ittihad Al Sakandary player finishing with aplomb. The goal would end up being the only one of the encounter as Egypt can now celebrate being the only team to win the AFCON on three successive occasions.