Best African National Teams of the 2000s: Egypt 2008

In the final AFCON competition of the 2000s, Egypt backed up their 2006 triumph with another title. In manager Hassan Shehata’s fourth year as manager, it was clear he had built an Egyptian team that worked as a team from top to bottom, with a mix of youth and experience in a squad that featured much of the 2006 team, including goalkeeper Essam El Hadary and captain Ahmed Hassan. 

In Group C, the Pharaohs won their first two games, beating Cameroon 4-2 and Sudan 3-0 before drawing their final group game to Zambia 1-1. Egypt’s quarterfinal match against Angola resulted in a 2-1 victory with goals from Hosny Abd Rabo and Amr Zaki coming either side of a Manucho equalizer in the first half. In the semifinal, Egypt faced an Ivory Coast team fresh off dismantling Guinea 5-0. Egypt managed to neutralize the attacking force of Ivory Coast, beating them in a comfortable 4-1 victory, with two of the goals coming from Zaki. 

In the final, Egypt came up against Cameroon in a Group C rematch. The final failed to produce as many goals as the group stage match did, but Egypt came out 1-0 winners on the back of a second half goal from Mohamed Aboutrika. 

It was Egypt’s second consecutive AFCON title and the second of three in a row, a record no other African team has matched.  As a result, Egyptian players made up five of the 11 spots in the team of the tournament, El Hadary, Wael Gomaa, Hosny, and Zaki all received the honor. The victory also qualified Egypt for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, where they finished bottom of their group. Though Egypt couldn’t replicate their continental dominance on the world stage, they still put together one of the greatest three tournament runs in AFCON history between 2006 and 2010.