AfCON 2021: Third time lucky for Senegal

APA-Douala (Cameroon)

After years of hurt caused by two near misses, hard-working Senegal have finally won African football's holy grail by beating seven-time champions Egypt at their own game - penalties.

Sunday's final of the Africa Cup of Nations in Douala provided little fireworks but contained plenty of drama including a saved penalty six minutes into the contest, gilt-edge and half chances and the last kick of the tournament on the penalty spot which decided the outcome in favour of the Teranga Lions.

The match was centred around Sadio Mane of Senegal and Mohammed Salah of Egypt, the two Liverpool teammates who found themselves at the opposing end of the titanic clash.

Mane fluffed a glorious chance to give his side the lead after Senegal were awarded a 4th minute penalty by the South African referee by going for power over precision with Egyptian keeper Gabaski making a heroic save.  

There was little to separate the two sides after one 120 minutes of sometimes laboured football, which saw limited half chances on both ends with Salah drawing fine saves from Chelsea keeper Edouard Mendy and Mane on the thick of the action to keep Gabaski busy.

Taking the outcome to the lottery of penalties looked perfect for the Egyptians who had frustrated opponents in the knockout stages of the competition, downing in the process Ivory Coast and hosts Cameroon with a 100 percent record in their spot-kicks.

But it was Senegal's night as the Teranga Lions looking unfazed held their nerves better to beat the Egyptians 4-2 at their own game which they had mastered so well in the history of the Africa Cup of Nations beginning in 1988.

The Senegalese talisman Mane had the last word over his Liverpool teammate Salah, slotted home the last kick of the tournament after two Egyptian spot-kicks went astray, one saved by Mendy.

The victory set off scenes of wild celebrating in the streets of Dakar where ecstatic crowds have been partying throughout Sunday evening.

As Africa's Number 1 ranked team, the Teranga Lions have finally their AfCON drought more than 50 years after their first participation in the tournament.

They lost two finals to Cameroon when Mali hosted it in 2002 and Algeria in 2019.


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