zidan eyes 2009 event

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

ACCRA - German-based Egyptian striker Mohamed Zidan is convinced that the Pharaohs will definitely not shame Africa at the 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa, a dress rehearsal for the 2010 World Cup finals.

The Pharaohs will be the second country to represent Africa in the Confederations Cup after South Africa's Bafana Bafana, who qualify by virtue of being hosts.

Speaking after winning a second consecutive Africa Cup of Nations title by defeating Cameroon 1-0 in Accra on Sunday night, the soft-spoken Zidan said having most of their players campaigning in the top leagues in the world was benefiting Egypt.

"Not many people gave us a chance when we came here three weeks ago. Everybody was tipping the Ivory Coast to win but we showed that winning the tournament at home in 2006 was no fluke.

"We have the best team in Africa. We are excited to have qualified for the Confederations Cup and are looking forward to doing well," said Zidan, whose goal in their 4-2 win over the same Cameroon in the group stages saw him walk away with the Goal of the Tournament award.

Zidan said it was important for the European-based players to insist on representing their countries when selected for international games.

"I have just moved to a new club, Humburg but I chose to come and represent my country in this tournament. I have no regrets at all.

"We [Africans] should always be looking forward to representing our countries."

Zidan also served as a translator for Mohamed Aboutrika, the Egyptian midfielder who had a great tournament.

"The feeling of winning the title again is a great one, especially doing it away from home.

"We are proud to have made the country happy by setting a new record of six Africa Cup of Nations titles.

"It's good for the 80 million people back home," he said.