LUANDA (AFP) Victory at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations had a significance for coach Hassan Shehata and his Egyptian 'Pharaohs far beyond a record third consecutive title. They arrived in Angola last month desperate to prove they should have been among the five African qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the first to be staged on the continent. And what better way to make that point than beat four of the five World Cup qualifiers who competed at the Nations Cup - Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria and Ghana. The 4-0 semi-finals rout of the Algerian 'Desert Foxes was especially sweet as this was the team that eliminated Egypt from the World Cup with a 1-0 play-off victory in Sudan last November. Pre-tournament favourites Ivory Coast were the only World Cup qualifiers the 'Pharaohs missed as the west Africans made a shock quarter-final exit to Algeria after an extra-time thriller. Egypt got a taste for the big time in South Africa last year, competing in the World Cup dress-rehearsal Confederations Cup tournament, and far exceeded expectations by losing narrowly to Brazil before stunning Italy. The triumph over the World Cup holders seemed to drain too much energy from the north Africans, though, and they crumbled 3-0 to the United States and were eliminated after the first round. For the second Nations Cup in succession, the international media placed the 'Pharaohs among the frontrunners but no one ventured so far as to suggest they could complete a title hat-trick. Just as in Ghana two years ago when they defended a title won on home soil in 2006, the 'Pharaohs were considered a spent force, full of ageing players in the twilight of their careers and incapable of conjuring up fresh heroics. Add the loss through injury of team superstar Mohamed Aboutraika, fellow midfielders Mohamed Barakat and Mohamed Shawky and striker Amr Zaki to injury and it appeared the 2010 title defence was doomed to fail. The absence of Aboutraika, scorer of the only goal in the 2008 final victory over Cameroon, was a particularly bitter blow as he ranks among the greatest African footballers never to play in Europe. Shehata, a stern, silver-haired 60-year-old who succeeded Italian Marco Tardelli six years ago, was his usual quiet, media-shy self and if there were doubts he was not letting anyone know. On the rare occasions he opens up in public, the former national team star stresses teamwork over individual brilliance, and he also has an uncanny knack of unearthing fresh talent. Amr Zaki burst onto the international stage with a couple of goals in the 4-1 semi-final thrashing of Ivory Coast two years ago and this time it was the turn of Mohamed 'Gedo Nagy. An attacking midfielder from the unfashionable Al-Ittihad club, Nagy was the supersub who finished leading scorer at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations with five goals while Samuel Etoo bagged a meagre two and Didier Drogba one. True to form, wily old fox Shehata kept Nagy on the bench until 19 minutes from full-time in a dour final against Ghana when he replaced Emad Motaeb and with extra time looming came his moment of glory. Space suddenly appeared in a previously densely populated Ghana penalty area and Nagy exchanged passes with Mohamed Zidan before curling the ball with the outside of his right boot across Richard Kingson and into the far corner. It was a goal worthy of winning any final and emphasised to the November 11 Stadium crowd and a multi-million television audience that the 2010 World Cup will be a poorer tournament without the 'Pharaohs.