AFCON FINAL: Between Senegal’s first title hope and Egypt’s record extension hope
Senegal faces Egypt this Sunday at Olembe Stadium in Yaoundé, as the 33rd edition of TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, Cameroon 2021 reaches its Grand Final.
While Senegal was expected at this stage of the competition as one of the favorites for winning their first ever title and last edition runner-up, Egypt defied odds that did not nominate them to go far and managed a formidable campaign to play for a record extension eighth AFCON title.
Date: 6 February 2022
Time: 20:00 local time (19:00 GMT)
Venue: Olembe Stadium, Yaoundé
Final – Senegal v Egypt
Senegal – Third time lucky
Losing twice in the two final matches they played (2002 and 2019), Senegal are hoping for a “third time lucky” this time round.
The Teranga Lions had less complicated tests given the opponents’ road to the final. After beating Zimbabwe 1-0 and two goalless draws with Guinea and Malawi to top their Group, Sadio Mané’s teammates defeated Cape Verde 2-0, Equatorial Guinea 3-1 then Burkina Faso by the same score in the knockouts.
Once again they will rely on the vast experience of Liverpool superstar Sadio Mane, Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly among others.
What they said
Aliou Cissé (Coach, Senegal)
“We prepared well for our final with the players who are determined and confident to put in a good show. We will approach this final with determination against a great Egyptian team. We know our opponent well; they have their own philosophy of play with experienced players on the continental level. We are on the way to our objective of winning the title this Sunday evening. We must focus on the final, play it well and thus succeed in our match. We will have to take advantage of the moment. We lost two finals in the past, but this time we will approach the match with more determination”.
Khalidou Coulibaly (Captain, Senegal)
“After missing the final in 2019, I will be there tomorrow to write the history of Senegalese football. The most important thing for me is to offer Senegal and the Senegalese people the trophy. We must realize our dream, that of to win the final crowning. We are keen to play well, to perform well to win this final. It will certainly be the most important match of my career and I will play it with all the determination and ardor necessary to win the tournament”.
Egypt – Twelve years of wait
The Egyptians, seven times winner of the competition (1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008 and 2010) are hoping of an eighth star on their jersey, twelve years from their last glory.
After a loss in their opener to Nigeria, Egypt defeated Guinea Bissau and Sudan to go through the group stage. Since then, The Pharaohs managed to oust three big names needing three extra times and two penalty shootouts. Neither Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco, nor hosts Cameroon managed to stop the Pharaohs in their quest to reach the grand final, five years after their heartbreak in Gabon 2017 final.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah led by example in every game, and he will be looked to again to have his moment of lifting the title. Missing injured Mohamed Elshenawy, goalkeeper Mohamed Abu Gabal who produced shootout heroics against Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon will be once again the first line of the Pharaohs title quest.
What they said
Wael Gomaa (Team Manager, Egypt)
“It’s true that we are tired after several matches played in extra time and the various trips since the start of the tournament, but the players will outdo themselves in the final to win the title. The main thing for us is to win the trophy and offer it to all the Egyptian people who have been supporting us for several months. I would like to thank the medical staff who are doing a titanic job in order to prepare all the players after each match”.
Mohamed Salah (Captain, Egypt)
“After a lost final in 2017 against Cameroon, we will play our all-out tomorrow against Senegal to grab an eighth star. We are determined to seek the crown. the players are physically and mentally ready. We are here to play the title and that means a lot to us. We want to offer a title to all Egyptian citizens.”
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