Egypt’s reign at the Africa Cup of Nations ended in dramatic fashion on Sunday, as they fell 8-7 on penalties to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following a tense 1-1 draw in San Pedro.
The defeat implies no return for Mohamed Salah from Liverpool as he continues his recovery from a hamstring injury, leaving a void in the Egyptian attack that proved impossible to fill.
DR Congo’s triumph was sealed by their goalkeeper, Lionel Mpasi, who converted the winning penalty after Egypt’s Mohamed Abou Gabal squandered his chance by clipping the crossbar. This capped an epic penalty shootout that saw both sides miss crucial spot-kicks before Mpasi delivered the final blow.
Earlier, the match unfolded as a tense back-and-forth affair. Meschack Elia gave DRC a dream start with a goalline header, but Egypt restored parity through Mostafa Mohamed’s penalty just before halftime. The second half saw Egypt grapple with the dismissal of midfielder Mohamed Hamdy for a second yellow card in extra time. Despite the numerical disadvantage, they clung on, forcing the nerve-wracking penalty shootout.
DR Congo held their nerve during the shootout, converting all eight of their penalties despite the immense pressure. Egypt, on the other hand, faltered when it mattered most, with Gabal’s miss proving decisive.
The result sends DR Congo into the quarter-finals, where they will face Guinea on Friday. For Egypt, the defeat marks a disappointing end to their Afcon campaign and raises questions about their future without their talismanic leader.