Senegal yesterday finally broke the jinx to become the 15th nation to win the African Cup of Nations, AFCON. The Teranga Lions of Senegal as they are called defeated the Pharaohs of Egypt by 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out after playing for 120 minutes to round up the tournament in Cameroun.
The Teranga Lions stopped the Egyptian from winning their eighth trophy thereby joining the leagues of countries that have gotten to the final of the AFCON thrice before winning it. Sudan got to the final in 1959, and 1963 before winning it in 1970. Zambia got to the final in 1974 and 1994 before lifting it in 2012.
Tunisia on the other hand, got to the final thrice in 1965 and 1996 before eventually winning it in 2004 as host. Cote d’Ivoire also won it after two final losses in 2006 and 2012 before lifting in 2015, although they have won it before then in 1992. Recalled that Senegal got to the final in 2002 and 2019 but they won it yesterday against Egypt.
Meanwhile, Senegal proved to the world yesterday that they were desperate to lift their first trophy on the continent as they gave everything out to ensure that they do not only smile at the end but also keep the job of their coach, Alou Cisse who has been the head coach for more than seven years.
The Senegalese started like a house on fire and even when their talisman, Sadio Mane lost a penalty in the early part of the match, they still kept on pressing till the last minute. The Senegalese did not only ensure that they scored their penalties in the shoot-out after 120 minutes of play but their goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy, who is not known as penalty saver ensured that he stopped one to give the team their needed win.
His performance in the final match couple with past matches ensure that he wins the goalkeeper of the tournament while his teammate, Sadio Mane won the Most Valuable Player. Camerounian striker, Abubakar won the highest goal scorer award with eight goals to his kitty.
In all, the tournament was interesting with lots of entertainment not only during the opening and closing ceremony but also on the field of play. Right from the beginning of the tournament till the final match, the matches were very interesting and matches to watch over and over again.
Kudos must be given to the organizer, CAF and the host, Cameroun for the wonderful event even though there were issues along the way. The closing ceremony went fine as the world was glued to their televisions to watch the final match. The players also did not disappoint as they proved themselves and made people see reasons why they are sort after by many leagues across the world.
Even though Mo Salah of Liverpool and Egypt did not live up to expectation, his colleague in the Senegalese team, Mane was on hand to entertain the crowd with his sleeky runs as he was busy throughout the match to ensure that they lift the trophy. His teammates also played very well especially Napoli star and Chelsea shot-stopper, Coulibaly and Mendy respectively.
The closing ceremony was a thing to behold, apart from the display of African culture with music and dance, it also featured the handing over of flag to the next host, Cote d’Ivoire. The President of Cameroun was also on hand to collect the trophy from world football governing body, FIFA and CAF presidents, Gianni Infantino and Patrice Motsepe respectively before handing over the trophy to the captain of the Teranga Lions, Coulibaly.
The show ended with the Senegalese displaying their talents in dance as they celebrate all through the night. The next edition of AFCON is expected to take place next year, 2023 in Cote d’Ivoire.