Afcon 2017: Egypt goalkeeper El Hadary foresaw penalty saves

Essam El Hadary is mobbed by his team-mates after the penalty shootout win over Burkina Faso
Essam El Hadary is mobbed by his team-mates after the penalty shootout win over Burkina Faso

Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary foresaw that he would save the penalties that took his side through to the Africa Cup of Nations final.

The 44-year-old kept out Burkina Faso's last two spot-kicks to win the shootout for Egypt in Wednesday's semi-final.

"I had a feeling that I was going to save the final two penalties," he said.

"When we went to the shootout, our 2006 title win crossed my mind," he added, recalling his penalty shootout save from Didier Drogba to beat Ivory Coast.

El Hadary is playing at his seventh Nations Cup and has won four titles.

At this tournament he became the oldest player at a major continental championship, and on Wednesday he made his 150th appearance for the Pharaohs.

It is remarkable to think he arrived in Gabon as one of Egypt's back-up goalkeepers to first-choice Ahmed El Shenawy, but injuries meant he was brought in 25 minutes into Egypt's first game.

Since then he has been formidable, conceding only one goal from normal play - in Wednesday's semi-final when Burkina Faso equalised in the second half.

And now a place in Sunday's final in Libreville, where Egypt face either Cameroon or Ghana, offers him a chance to become the first player to win five Nations Cup titles.

His first title came as a reserve in 1988, just two years after his debut, but he was at the peak of his career as Egypt won three back-to-back Nations Cup titles between 2006 and 2010.

"I'm happy to be in contention for all of these records but the most important is for Egypt to win the cup," El Hadary said.

"If we win the title, then the record will pass to me and I will be grateful. But I've never worried about my personal records. The country comes first, then the record book."

It would also be a record-extending eighth title For Egypt, who are already the most successful country in the history of the Nations Cup side - and an incredible return to glory after they failed to qualify for the last three tournaments.

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