Wily Egypt shaded this cracking clash against a Cameroonian side that was full of running and drive but could not translate their dominance in normal time into goals.
Egypt’s prize is a mouth-watering rematch on Thursday against bitter rivals Algeria, who pipped the Egyptians to a World Cup ticket in dramatic circumstances in November.
The Pharaohs have thus improved to 17 matches their unbeaten run in the tournament and also extended their five-year superiority over the Indomitable Lions.
Cameroon defender Aurelien Chedjou saw red in the 112th minute for a professional foul on Mohamed Nagy.
Cameroon opened the scoring in the 26th minute courtesy of an own goal by the record-setting skipper Ahmed Hassan, who got a slight touch with the head an Achille Emana corner at the near post as it sailed into the net.
Egypt would have equalised soon after when a long, searching free kick found Emad Motaeb, who raced past onrushing goalkeeper Kameni but his header was too long for him to control and slot into an empty net.
Skipper Hassan turned from villain to hero in the 37th minute when he caught Kameni napping with a dipping shot from over 35 yards, which bounced in front of the Cameroon goalkeeper before resting at the back of the net to draw the champions level.
A faulty back pass two minutes into extra-time by Geremi Njitap found super sub Mohamed ‘Gedo’ Nagy, who slotted home between Kameni’s legs to give Egypt their first lead of this pulsating encounter.
The defending champions increased their lead on 95 minute when a curling freekick by Ahmed Hassan was adjudged to have been palmed beyond the goalline by goalkeeper Kameni. Television replays showed that the ball did not cross the line.
In the 110th minute, Nagy dashed free through the Cameroon defence but Kameni made a brave save off his feet. The game appeared to slip away for the Lions of Cameroon when Chedjou was sent off moments later
Cameroon fought to reduce the deficit in the second half of extra-time but Egypt kept their shape to stay on course for an unprecedented seventh Nations Cup title.
From the kick-off, Cameroon took the game to their opponents and got a corner after three minutes which Emana crashed against the side netting. Moments later, Egypt defender Wael Gomaa shadowed Mohamadou Idrissou from connecting home a low cross from the right flank.
Egypt’s first attack came only after six minutes when Ahmed Fathi fired at the Cameroon goal as the Pharaohs tried to get their own attack going and the Indomitable Lions pressed on at the other end of the pitch for an opening goal, forcing five corners in the first 11 minutes.
Cameroon defended right from the Egyptian half and that way unsettled the patient build-up and rhythm of the Pharaohs, who found it tough going forward in the first quarter of an hour.
In the 15th minute, Alexandre Song fouled goal-bound Mohamed Zidan on the edge of the box, but the resulting freekick by Hosny Abdrabou was blocked by the Cameroon wall for a corner.
Cameroon continued to dictate the pace of this contest and more than deserved their lead when it came in the 25th minute.
Six minutes after their equaliser, Hosny Abdrabou would have given Egypt the lead but he failed to direct his header on target when all alone inside the 18-yard box.
Cameroon’s response was immediate as Emana fired a pile driver from distance a minute later but Essam El-Hadary was alert to push the ball out of harm’s way.
From the restart, Egypt would have gone in front when Chedjou mistimed a long ball into the Cameroon area, Motaaeb got a foot to the ball but somehow Kameni gathered the ball. Minutes later, Zidan with a lot of space to spare shot inches wide as the Cameroon defence came under siege.
Chedjou again succumbed to pressure in the 49th minute when he was robbed of the ball by Zidan on the edge of the box, but Kameni made a fine save to the relief of the Cameroonians.
Al-Muhammadi did well to stop the rampaging Henri Bedimo from doing damage in the 87th minute with a timely tackle to tap the ball out for a corner.
In a swift counter attack, Motaeb almost scored for Egypt against the run of play but his effort crashed against the side netting. AFP