Egypt triumph cushions World Cup blow

LUANDA - Egypt's record third successive African Nations Cup triumph underlined how much of a blow missing out on the 2010 World Cup finals is to the country.

Egypt enhanced their reputation as one of the continent's best sides by winning the title for a record seventh time after a 10- victory over Ghana in Sunday's final in Angola.

But for all their mastery at the Nations Cup, Egypt have consistently failed to qualify for world soccer's showcase event. Egypt's last appearance at the World Cup came in 1990 in Italy.

Their most recent qualifying flop came in November when they were beaten 1-0 in a play-off by Algeria to miss out on this year's finals in South Africa.

Their World Cup failure contrasted starkly with their dominance in the Nations Cup which led to coach Hassan Shehata calling his side the greatest ever in African football after Sunday's victory.

When asked about the World Cup disappointment Shehata gave only a shrug of the shoulders.

Egypt's success in Angola, however, did have something of a World Cup feel to it.

They thumped Algeria 4-0 in the semi-final in Benguela and beat three other World Cup-bound teams - Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria - en route to the title.

"This makes our success even better because it was the most difficult competition for us, having to beat four teams who have qualified for the World Cup," assistant coach Shawki Gharib said.

Earlier in the tournament captain Ahjmed Hassan, again named player of the tournament, insisted winning three African titles was a better achievement than going to the World Cup.

"It is true to say that every player dreams of playing at the Word Cup but I think three Nations Cup titles is better than the World Cup, where you probably play three games and go home," he told Reuters.