SEMI A DREAM FOR BOUAZZA

SHINING LIGHTS: Local referees Enock Molefe, left, and Jerome Damon. 23/12/2008. Pic. Ramatsiyi Moholoa. © Sowetan.RELIED ON ASSISTANT: Top SA referee Jerome Damon. Sowetan 27 January 2010, page 30.
SHINING LIGHTS: Local referees Enock Molefe, left, and Jerome Damon. 23/12/2008. Pic. Ramatsiyi Moholoa. © Sowetan.RELIED ON ASSISTANT: Top SA referee Jerome Damon. Sowetan 27 January 2010, page 30.

BENGUELA - Playing defending champions Egypt tomorrow in an Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) semifinal in Benguela is a dream come true for Algerian hero Hameur Bouazza.

BENGUELA - Playing defending champions Egypt tomorrow in an Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) semifinal in Benguela is a dream come true for Algerian hero Hameur Bouazza.

The 24-year-old wide midfielder from English second-tier club Blackpool headed the extra-time winner that toppled title favourites Ivory Coast on Sunday and he has been itching for another shot at the Pharaohs.

Though the Desert Foxes defeated Egypt at home and in a playoff in Sudan to snatch an unexpected place at the 2010 World Cup, they are still battling to win over media sceptics at home.

"It is great playing Egypt again as it offers us a chance to prove we beat them fairly and not through luck," Bouazza said as the countdown began to the clash of the bitter regional rivals at the 35 000-seater Ombaka Stadium.

"We won through hard work and because we have a lot of talented players."

The three World Cup clashes between the countries were enveloped in controversy with Egypt claiming their food was poisoned in Blida, while the Algerian bus was stoned en route to its Cairo hotel from the airport.

Hundreds of rival supporters were reportedly injured in Khartoum, Egyptian citizens were attacked in Algiers, and a war of words erupted between high-level government officials.

Bouazza preferred to concentrate on football, stressing that while the Foxes may lack individual stars like 170-cap Egypt midfielder and skipper Ahmed Hassan, they possess abundant character and team spirit.

That was clear against the Ivorians in Cabinda as they recovered from conceding an 89th-minute goal to level two minutes into stoppage time via the head of Glasgow Rangers defender Madjid Bougherra.

And when a long cross from the left drifted to the far post two minutes into extra time, unmarked Bouazza calmly nodded the ball into the corner of the net.

Nigeria take on neighbours Ghana in another semifinal tie tomorrow. - Sapa-AFP

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