Egypt striker Mohamed Zidan, absent when his team won the African Nations Cup two years ago after putting club commitments first, said he made the right choice this year by choosing to play for his country.
|Mohamed Zidan: "Feeling like a champion" [AFP] |
"It's a great feeling to be champion today," said the Hamburg SV player after Egypt beat Cameroon 1-0 in the final to win the trophy for the second year running and a record sixth time overall.
"I missed the last time in Egypt and it was a difficult situation," said Zidan, who laid on the winning goal for Mohamed Aboutrika in the final.
"I decided to stay with my club in Germany and I was in a similar situation this time, it was a difficult situation to decide who to play for, Hamburg or the national team.
"But I took this decision because I wanted to imagine the feeling of being a champion. We have the strongest team in Africa and we have shown this in this tournament."
Aboutrika said: "It's a great feeling to score for my country because we're making the whole country happy. When you score the winning goal for the national team, it's different from scoring for a club."
Aboutrika also converted the winning kick when Egypt beat Ivory Coast on penalties after a 0-0 draw in the 2006 final.
"It's even better when you win away from home because you're from your country, your people, your family but this gives you power. You want to fight to win away and make everyone happy and that makes it even better.
"This is the happiest day of my life."
Meanwhile, in Cairo thousands of Egyptians poured into the streets waving flags and beating drums to celebrate their side’s victory.
The scene was especially dramatic in Cairo's twin city of Giza where crowds wielding flaming cans of aerosol sprays flooded the massive eight-lane Arab League street, a major thoroughfare lined with shops and fast food restaurants, bringing traffic to a halt with their celebrations.
The bridges spanning the Nile river were soon choked with honking cars and parades of celebratory fans, while underneath Nile tour boats sounded their own horns to accompany the drumbeats and chants of the crowds.
In the neighbouring Gaza Strip, dozens of Palestinians took to the streets to celebrate Egypt's sixth African Cup title, while the Hamas-led government sent its own official congratulations.