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Blatter u-turn on new technology as Egypt win with 'phantom' goal

SEPP Blatter, the Fifa president, must have been gazing into his crystal ball when, on Sunday, he hinted that goal-line technology could be introduced next season.

Egypt benefited from a 'goal that wasn't' at the Africa Cup of Nations yesterday as they defeated Cameroon 3-1 in Benguela, Angola, to reach the semi-finals.

Egypt, the holders, led 2-1 in extra time when Ahmed Hassan unleashed a 30-yard free kick that Idriss Kameni, the Cameroon goalkeeper, mispunched on to the crossbar. The ball bounced down and, although it clearly did not cross the line, Jerome Damon, the South African referee, awarded the goal on the advice of an assistant.

Samuel Eto'o, the Cameroon captain, felt that Damon contributed to his team's defeat.

"The referee supported Egypt a bit because they did not deserve to win this game," the Inter Milan striker said, adding that Paul Le Guen, the coach of the national team, had angrily walked out on the post-match press conference.

Blatter has been a long-time opponent of sanctioning the use of technology but appears to have had a change of heart. If he needed any further evidence to persuade him, he got it in Benguela. "I'm not absolutely against it," Blatter said. "If the technology is ready to adopt, then I am in agreement.





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"If the security of the system is guaranteed, then we will introduce it. But it will not be ready for the 2010 World Cup finals."

It was an eventful game for Hassan, the Egypt captain, whose 170th appearance for his country made him the most capped African player. He inadvertently gave Cameroon the lead with an own goal, when he turned in Achille Emana's corner, but equalised with a 35-yard shot that bounced in front of and over the hapless Kameni.

Mohamed Gedo took advantage of a poor back-pass from Geremi to nudge Egypt 2-1 ahead in the first period of extra time before Hassan's 'phantom' goal secured victory. Cameroon's misery was compounded when Aurelien Chedjou was sent off for a professional foul on Gedo as he raced through.

Egypt play Algeria in their semi-final in Benguela on Thursday, a repeat of their World Cup play-off in neutral Sudan in November, which Algeria won 1-0 to qualify for the finals in South Africa. Nigeria advanced to a last-four game against Ghana in Luanda after beating Zambia 5-4 on penalties in Cabina. The match was goalless after extra time.