After 29 participations, Senegal has finally joined the ranks of the winners of the African Cup of Nations. Against Egypt on Sunday 6 February in Yaoundé, Cameroon, the Lions of Teranga won for the very first time in their history the final in the fateful penalty shoot-out (4 shots to 2).
The task was not easy for the Senegalese team. For football lovers, it was more than an inter-nation match, it was a duel between Egyptian Mohamed Salah and Senegalese Sadio Mané, both teammates at Liverpool. This was the third participation for Senegalese coach Aliou Cissé, who was there the first time as a player, the second time as a coach and this third time as a coach.
Many mistakes were made during the match. Offensively, it was not particularly spectacular. The Lions of Teranga had many chances to score, starting with a missed penalty in the opening minutes of the match. The difference was in goal, with Edouard Mendy being named man of the match thanks to his saves, particularly in the penalty shoot-out. Indeed, no goals were scored in regulation time.
In addition, the Senegalese team had many good chances to score, all of which were saved by the Egyptian goalkeeper. This was before the Pharaohs got their first chance with Mr Salah in the 28th minute. From that moment on, the latter began to dominate the match. The pressure was building on both sides without any goals being scored. At the beginning of the second half, the Lions of Teranga came back strongly on the field but missed many attempts. In the 74th minute, Egypt missed a great opportunity to score, with Mahmoud Hamdi’s shot going narrowly wide of Edouard Mendy’s goal. Thus the regulation time elapsed, leaving room for extra time.
The Egyptian defence, a real barrier.
Despite numerous opportunities, Senegal could not achieve their goal. The Egyptian defence remained impassable. Knowing that the Pharaohs had won most of their previous matches in extra time, the Senegalese redoubled their efforts to avoid becoming a victim of habit. However, the Senegalese pressure was not enough to remove the barriers. S. Mané then took a penalty for Senegal, which was saved by Egyptian goalkeeper Mohamed Qobt Abou Gabal ALi, also known as Gabaski, nicknamed the Great Dam. A few minutes later, Gabaski again made a spectacular save from Bamba Dieng’s header. And until the end of the extra minutes, the score remained the same.
At the Olembe stadium in Yaounde, all the supporters are holding their breath. Because it was time for penalties. At the level of the coaches and staff, one could not speak of composure. The Egyptians for the first time since the beginning of the competition missed two shots. It was Mané’s turn to end the game with the fifth shot. What he did by sending the fans and all the Senegalese people to heaven. The Lions of Teranga won the match on penalties.
A human tide invades the streets of Dakar after Mané’s shooting
Thousands of Senegalese envade the streets in Dakar not to protest but to express their joy and celebrate the victory. This is the first time Senegal has won this continental crown. Adults and children in a concert of motorbike horns criss-crossed the streets of the Senegalese capital to celebrate the victory. The people of Dakar, wearing green, yellow and red T-shirts and flags stamped with a green star, and wearing the outfits of their favourite players, stormed the avenue leading to the presidential palace and the city’s public squares.
Similarly, after the whistle, the reaction of Senegalese chairman Macky Sall was not long in coming.”African Champions!!! What a game! What a team! You did it! Beautiful moment of football, beautiful moment of communion and national pride. So proud of you! Congratulations to our heroes,” the Senegalese chairman said via Twitter shortly after the match. In order to give the festival more prominence, Monday 7 February 2022 was declared a day off with pay throughout the country. Thus, Senegal won the 33rd edition of the African Cup of Nations.