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Egypt cruise into African quarter-finals

© Reuters 2002

By Brian Homewood

BAMAKO, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Four-times champions Egypt cruised into the quarter-finals of the African Nations Cup on Thursday, beating Zambia 2-1 on a stiflingly hot afternoon as veteran striker Hossam Hassan made his first appearance at the tournament.

Egypt, who finished Group D with six points from three games, won with two remarkably similar goals from Ajax striker Ahmed Hossam in the first half and Hazam Imam in the second.

Midfielder Gift Kampamba pulled a goal back in the 77th minute but Zambia's first goal of the tournament was too late to prevent them being knocked out in the first round for the third tournament running. They went home with one point and just one goal to their credit.

Hassan, the world's second most capped international and taking part in his sixth Nations Cup, had been kept out of Egypt's opening two games by a hamstring injury.

The 35-year-old had a quiet match but missed an excellent chance to celebrate with a goal when he broke through late in the game but saw his shot saved by goalkeeper Davies Phiri.

Zambia, with two players based in Germany, two in South Africa and seven locally in their starting line-up, again paid the price for poor finishing, just as they had done on Saturday when they lost 1-0 in the last minute to Senegal.

Cosmas Banda missed an excellent chance to put them in front when he was free in front of the goal in the penalty area but dallied over his shot and was crowded out by the defence.

Egypt broke the deadlock in the 35th minute when Hossam, who has had a disappointing tournament to date, rounded Phiri to score after beating the offside trap and latching on to a through ball.

The shot-shy Zambians then wasted another chance when midfielder Laughter Chilembe played an excellent one-two but passed instead of shooting. Immediately afterwards, Charles Lota had a shot turned away by Essaam El Hadary.

Egypt came out for the second half clearly intent on conserving energy in a match which kicked off at 4pm on a baking Sahelian afternoon and catching Zambia on the break.

They did exactly that in the 58th minute when Zambia's offside trap was again beaten and Imam burst through, rounded Phiri and scored.

Kampamba's goal came from a direct free kick near the goal-line in the 77th minute. Zambia should have equalised in the last minute but Harry Milanzi contrived to miss from 12 metres with the Egypt defence beaten.

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