Cameroon clinch a thriller
Defending champions Egypt and Cameroon came through their respective quarterfinals on Monday to join holders Ghana and Ivory Coast as the last four teams standing at the African Nations Cup.
Egypt saw off a spirited Angola 2-1 in Kumasi to set up a rematch of the 2006 final with Ivory Coast and as for Cameroon, they have an equally tough assignment facing hosts Ghana after a 3-2 extra time win over Tunisia.
Both semifinals are scheduled for Thursday with the third place play off set for Saturday.
Five-time titleholders Egypt took control at the Baba Yara Stadium via a Hosni Abd Rabou penalty. Angola's exciting Manchester United signing Manucho equalised with a shot out of nowhere before Amr Zaky exploited some poor defending to wrap up the game.
Goalscorer Rabou paid credit to Angola, who were making their first appearance in the knockout stages of the continental competition.
"They gave us our toughest game so far," the Ismailia midfielder said.
"Now we've got the Ivory Coast. They're a good team, but we beat them two years ago."
Midfielder Sayed Moawad added: "We came here to defend our title and today we confirmed we're on the right path.
"The Ivory Coast have shown they're here to win the title, and they'll be looking for revenge but we'll prepare well for it."
Angola, the surprise package at the 26th Nations Cup, head home having proved themselves as the rising force of African football.
But coach Luis Oliveira Goncalves believed the wrong team were knocked out.
"Normally in football the best side wins, but today it was the opposite," he lamented.
"Egypt were lucky, we created more chances, but weren't able to convert them.
"But my players shouldn't have any shame. Egypt are a good, experienced team, and my side are young."
Later in Tamale Cameroon, with 70-year-old coach Otto Pfister guiding them, kept on course for a record-equalling fifth title.
Despite his stage in life the German veteran looked as happy as a child afterwards, joining his players in a celebratory sing-song.
The doyen of African football recalled Stephane Mbia and that move proved the key.
Dropped following a 4-2 loss to Egypt in their first group match, Mbia made the most of his second chance to open the scoring in the first half.
Cameroon struck again nine minutes later as a trademark Geremi Njitap free kick floated over the wall and landed in the left corner of the net.
With 34 minutes gone Tunisia were back in contention from an equally brilliant set piece as Chaouki Ben Saada sent a free kick flying over Carlos Kameni into the near corner.
After Samuel Eto'o had caused more panic with a break that was hastily cleared, Tunisia deservedly levelled nine minutes from full-time when Ben Frej cut the ball back for Yassine Chikhaoui to strike the ball sweetly past Kameni.
Mbia though hadn't had his final say and he snatched the winner two minutes into extra time.
Galatasaray defender Rigobert Song, reflecting on how the Indomitable Lions had lived up to their name, said: "That was very tough, Tunisia are a very good team.
"We scored quickly but their goal gave them confidence. But we won this match because of our heads, our mental strength."
Cameroon struggled initially in the group stage with Song acknowledging: "No one was waiting for Cameroon to get this far. We've gone slowly, slowly, and now we'll do everything to make it to the final."
Ghana are waiting to make sure that doesn't happen.