The Africa Cup of Nations is one of the oldest and most prestigious football tournaments in the world. Since its inception in 1957, it has given football lovers across the continent memorable moments and thrilling matches. However, few moments in the tournament’s history come close to Egypt’s historic threepeat of AFCON trophies from 2006 to 2010.
In the decade-plus, since the Pharaohs claimed their seventh and final trophy 13 years ago, the Egyptians have only known heartbreak in the final. Last winter, inspired by the brilliance of Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah, they reached the final for the tenth time in their storied history. However, it was the 31-year-old sensation that missed the decisive spot-kick in the final, allowing his then-Anfield teammate Sadio Mane to slot home and hand the trophy to Senegal for the first time in the nation’s history.
Salah would bounce back from that heartache. He led his club team to a third Champions League final five years later that year, a final that the Reds would lose to Real Madrid courtesy of Vinicius Jr.’s second-half strike in Paris. Next season will be the first in six years where neither Salah nor Liverpool feature in the tournament however, and the online sports betting odds currently make them the +275 favorites for Europa League glory following a fifth-place finish in the Premier League.
In this article, however, we will be focusing on the team whose footsteps Salah and Co. followed him. The famed threepeat winners. Without further ado, let’s take a trip down memory lane and revisit this historic achievement.
Glory On Home Turf
The Cairo International Stadium will always hold a special place in the hearts of Egyptian football fans. It was here that their national team began its AFCON threepeat with a commanding 4-2 victory against an iconic Ivory Coast side in 2006 on home turf. The Elephants featured a number of international superstars including the likes of Chelsea icon Didier Drogba as well as future Manchester City star Yaya Toure.
However, under the guidance of Hassan Shehata, the Pharaohs had an all-star cast of their own. Led by the legendary former Tottenham Hotspur striker Mido and Ahmed Hassan, the Egyptians were expected to impress as the tournament hosts, and they duly delivered. They cruised through the group stages, dismantling Libya in the process, before handing out a 4-1 drubbing to DR Congo in the quarterfinals. They then narrowly defeated Senegal 2-1 in the quarterfinals with former Wigan Athletic striker Amr Zaki netting a late winner to set up a final date with the Ivory Coast, whom they beat 4-2 on penalties to win their fifth continental crown.
Retaining the Trophy
The 2008 edition in Ghana was no different for Egypt. They had a squad that had perfect chemistry and was motivated by the desire to retain their title. The team had a blend of youth and experience, with the likes of Mohamed Aboutrika and Hosny Abd Rabo shining on the continental stage.
The Pharaohs announced themselves as contenders with impressive victories over Samuel Eto’o’s Cameroon and Sudan as they topped Group C. They would then grind out a 2-1 quarterfinal victory over Angola in the quarterfinals, before dismantling Drogba’s Ivory Coast 4-1 in the semifinals, with a double from 2006 final hero Zaki being the pick of the goals. That was enough to set up a meeting with Cameroon in the showpiece, and a late strike from Al Ahly icon Mohamed Aboutrika was enough to secure a second consecutive AFCON title.
In 2010, Egypt went to Angola seeking to win their seventh AFCON trophy and their third on the bounce. They had a tough group with Nigeria, Benin, and Mozambique. However, they handily finished as group winners, beating all three of their competitors en route to the knockout stages. They would once again have a difficult path ahead of them if they were to reach a third consecutive final, but they proved that they were up to the test.
A brace from Ahmed Hassan was enough to secure a 3-1 extra-time victory over Cameroon in the quarterfinals before a dominant second-half performance against Algeria in the semifinals sealed a 4-0 victory and a spot in the final. The final itself was another stern test for the Pharaohs, as they faced Ghana.
It was a game of high tension and drama. Both sides had chances, but it was Gedo’s 85th-minute strike that proved to be the difference. Egypt won 1-0, securing their seventh AFCON title and becoming the first team to win three consecutive tournaments.
For Egypt, the threepeat of AFCON trophies from 2006 to 2010 was a moment of pride and history. They were a dominant force in African football and deservedly so. The squad had a perfect blend of experience, youth, and talent that many teams dream of.
The Pharaohs highlighted their dominance by the way they won the trophies, often grinding out victories against tough opposition. Although they have struggled to replicate that success in recent years, the legacy of the threepeat of AFCON trophies will always be etched forever in the memories of Egyptian football fans and the African football community.