The 2017 Africa Cop of Nations lasted between 14 January to 5 February but the tournament, especially that final match between Egypt and Cameroon, will remain in Elneny Mohamed’s heart.
Cameroon won their fifth title at the tournament’s 31st edition after a 2-1 victory over the 7-time champions.
On that memorable day which was also celebrated as the tournament’s 60th anniversary, Elneny opened the score sheet for his country.
However, things went awry in the second half after a wonderful goal from Nicolas N’Koulou broke the Egyptians’ heart.
Hector Cuper’s side struggled to ward off further threats but were trampled upon as Vincent Aboubakar unleashed another heartbreaking strike to put Cameroon on a lead.
Image: Vincent Aboubakar
Despite the loss, Elneny says he had a swell time on and off the pitch.
“I think it was a successful experience for the players, coaching staff, the new football association and for the country in general,” he told Arsenal Player. “I think we made the people in Egypt and in the Arab world happy because of our run in the competition.
“People needed something to unite them and make them cheer for and be happy about. We are happy with this achievement, but of course we would have loved to make them more happy and win the cup and bring it back to Egypt.
“We did our best and tried really hard but it wasn’t meant to be. This is God’s will and hopefully the future will bring us better things.
“The goal I scored was very special for me, I imagined after the game how happy over 90 million people must have been when I scored.
“It was such an amazing feeling and we would have loved to win the cup but it wasn’t Allah’s will and I am sure in the future we will achieve something we have wanted for a long time.
“I am not worried about the generation of players for Egypt, we left our mark and we made people believe again. The future will carry better things for us, God willing.”
Image: Elneny Mohamed
Arsene Wenger’s club said they are proud of their player notwithstanding the loss. A consolatory Twitter message from Arsenal reads:
@ElNenny It just wasn’t meant to be for Mo and Egypt tonight
We’re proud of your efforts, @ElNennyM pic.twitter.com/ym3AA0RweU
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) February 5, 2017