The Egyptian president and newspapers
applauded the “dignity” of the national
football team on Monday, calling them
champions despite agonisingly losing the
Africa Cup of Nations final 2-1 to Cameroon.

Arsenal midfielder Mohamed Elneny gave
Egypt the lead midway through the first half
on Sunday and they looked to be on course to
win an unrivalled eighth Cup of Nations
crown in their first appearance at the
tournament since 2010.

But Cameroon hit back and Vincent
Aboubakar came off the bench to score a
stunning winner with two minutes left to
break Egyptian hearts.

“We have lost with dignity” read the headline
of the privately owned Al-Shorouk
newspaper.

“The Pharaohs have lost 2-1 in the finals after
a dignified performance,” said the state-
owned Al-Akhbar newspaper.

The private Al-Watan newspaper chimed:
“The cup was lost but we won the national
team.”

“You have honoured us, champions… We’ll
meet at the World Cup,” the privately owned
Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper added.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi expressed his
“great appreciation” to the players on their
“dignified performance” in Gabon.

“Despite the result of the game the national
team has won the appreciation of the entire
Egyptian people and the respect of all
football fans around the world,” Sisi said in a
statement.

Thousands of fanatical Egyptians gathered in
front of massive screens in the 6 October
suburb in western Cairo, as they did all over
the country, blowing Vuvuzelas and waving
Egyptian flags.

The Vuvuzela horns fell silent at the final
whistle.

“I’m in shock,” said 30-year-old engineer
Ayman Abou el-Nour, who was watching the
game with his wife and two children.
“We needed something to bring us happiness.
Our problem now is that we don’t have
anything to make us happy.”

Egyptians, grappling with skyrocketing prices
and political turmoil, hope next year’s World
Cup will offer some more respite.

“We have lost the cup but we still have a
chance to reach the World Cup. That is the
big dream,” said 20-year-old student Ahmed
Alaa.


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