Its Pharaohs against Stars

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LUANDA, January 28- Africa Cup of Nations' kings Egypt walloped eight-man Algeria 4-0 on Thursday to set up a fascinating clash with Ghana's youngsters in Sunday's final.Egypt’s charmed run to what would be a seventh title looks all but assured if they mete out the same treatment to Ghana as they have done to Nigeria, Mozambique, Benin, Cameroon and now bitter rivals Algeria.

Egypt assistant coach Chaouki Gharib said: "We’ve played against three World Cup qualifiers in our five matches here, we’ve beaten them all and scored ten goals against all of them.

"It’s thanks to our strategy, we know how to win games and how to deal with our rivals. We wish Algeria well at the World Cup because they are representing the Arab world."

Egypt’s goals against their bitter rivals came from Hosni Abdrabou, who converted a penalty, Mohamed Zidan, substitutes Mohamed Abdelshafy and Mohamed ‘Gedo’ Nagy.

Indisciplined Algeria saw red three times.

First defender Rafik Halliche was sent packing for bringing down a goal-bound Emad Motaeb whch led to the spot-kick in the 39th minute.

Then in the second half Nadir Belhadj became the second Algerian player to walk off in disgrace after a two-footed tackle on Ahmedd Al-Muhammadi.

In the 86th minute a torrid night for Algeria got worse when goalkeeper Faouzi Chaouchi was sent off after he attempted to maliciously tackle Nagy.

Algeria coach Rabah Saadane attacked Benin referee Koffi Codjia for Halliche’s red card.

He said: "The referee sent off our best defender, it was free fall after that. You have to look at the reality, it was the referee who turned the game upside down."

This resounding victory was sweet revenge for Algeria’s win in last November’s acrimonious World Cup play-off which put Saadane’s men on a plane to South Africa and not Egypt.

It also enhanced Egypt’s unbeaten run to 18 games – the last time they lost in the Africa Cup of Nations was six years ago in Tunisia – against Algeria.

Earlier in Luanda Ghana, missing a raft of key injured players including star man Michael Essien, belied their inexperience to down fellow World Cup qualifiers Nigeria 1-0.

Coach Milovan Rajevic’s talented team, who owe their presence in their first final in 18 years to Asamoah Gyan’s first half goal, have done wonderfully well to make it to the climax of this continental competition.

But they have a mountain to climb if they are to get their hands on a fifth title judging by the way Egypt demolished indisciplined Algeria in Benguela.

And only an ardent Ghana fan would bet against them emerging as African champions yet again at Luanda’s 11 November stadium on Sunday.

Rajevic said "I told my boys we were not going to play beautiful football today, we were going to play for a result.

"Nigeria had a few good chances but my team are very young and sometimes due to inexperience it led them (Nigeria) to create chances."

Under-fire Nigeria coach Shaibu Amodu was asked if he was going to stand down.

He replied: "My contract is until August. If I’m still in charge up to the World Cup I will look at our deficiencies in this competition and look at areas of reinforcement.

"I said before we came here we don’t have the best team but I’m confident we are developing from match to match.

"I don’t think we lost to a better side, we lost to a youthful and enterprising side."

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