Raining on the parade: Egypt enjoy their triumph [AFP]

Egyptian footballers believe the strength of club football in Egypt was the key to their African Nations Cup triumph against Cameroon.

Only two players from the starting side side are based abroad, with defender Wael Gomaa and captain Ahmed Hassan playing respectively at Al Siliya of Qatar and Belgian club Anderlecht.

Most of the others play together with five-times African champions Al Ahli, giving fluidity to the Pharaohs' play, while several are from Egyptian rivals Ismaili.

"The Egyptian clubs are often brilliant in the African Champions League," says Angel Marcos, who coached Ismaili for a spell during the 1990s.

The Argentine, now a consultant for French sports daily L'Equipe's Web site, added: "The clubs have very good structures, with a lot of effort being made in the academies.

"They have tactical courses, making the Egyptian clubs play like the South Americans and the Europeans.

"Undoubtedly, it is what gives the Pharaohs the edge over the other teams in Africa."

Egypt played a free-flowing passing game throughout the tournament, beating Cameroon 4-2 in their opening group game before thrashing hot favourites Ivory Coast 4-1 in the semi-finals.

An emphatic response

On Sunday, they dominated most of the game but were kept out by Cameroon's impressive keeper Idriss Carlos Kameni until Mohamed Aboutrika pounced after an error by Rigobert Song.

For some, their victory was also a response to critics who had put Egypt's 2006 title down to the team having home advantage as hosts.

"We always respect our opponents but we are not afraid to play our game," striker Mohamed Fadl said.

"The fact that everybody was only speaking about Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Ghana (as tournament favourites) was a huge motivation for us.

"After all, we were still the defending champions and we eventually proved our point. We beat Cameroon twice and we knocked out Ivory Coast."

Source: Agencies