The Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title has once again eluded Egypt’s captain and talisman, Mohammed Salah after the Pharaohs lost 2-4 in post-match penalties against Senegal in the pulsating final of 2021 Cameroun edition.
Prior to the Round of 16 match, Mo Sallah said the AFCON tile was a trophy he badly needed to win and he stressed this just a day before the final that after losing in the 2017 final against Cameroon, he and the whole team were determined to grab an eighth star against Senegal.
But it was not to be that after a 0-0 result of regulation as well as extra time, Senegal were crowned champions of Africa having waited a long time in their history to win their first continental title.
Mo Sallah’s team mate at English Premier League side Liverpool, Sadio Mane, who had his penalty saved by Egypt’s goalkeeper Gabaski in the 4th minute of play, converted the all-important goal in the shootouts in regulation.
Despite the missed penalty, Senegal continued pressuring and the only Egyptian opportunity was the work of Mo Salah who, after having a cold in the Senegalese defense, took a shot angle that was deflected by Edouard Mendy for a corner.
Senegal continued to dominate but remained powerless when it came to making a final move before going for the break.
As in the first period, the Pharaohs had their chance with Marwan Mehany alone in the Senegalese penalty area, but was headed over the crossbar in the 73rd minute.
After 0-0 at the end of regulation time, South African referee Victor Gomes sent the players back for the extra time in which Senegal had a chance through Bamba Dieng but his header was deflected for a corner by the Egyptian goalkeeper in the 110th minute.
Bamba Dieng lighted up once more when Egypt’s goalkeeper parried away his shot for a corner while Egypt’s Mahmoud Aladin also had goalkeeper Edouard Mendy deflected for a corner.
The Pharaohs succeeded twice in post match penalties against Côte d’Ivoire in the quarterfinals and Cameroon in the semi-final) but luck deserted them this time around when only Senegal’s Bouna Sarr being the only one to miss his exercise while the Pharaohs Mohamed Abdel Meneam and Mohanad Ahmed Abdelmoneim missed theirs.
Sadio Mané atoned his missing penalty to score the all-important penalty and claim their first continental crown playing in their third AFCON final (runners-up in 2002 and 2019) in their 16th appearance in the competition.
Senegal have proved the statistics that no team have played in more AFCON tournaments without ever lifting the trophy.
Senegal have won 11 AFCON matches across the last three tournaments (since 2017), more victories than any other team, while they’ve also kept the most clean sheets (13) from group qualifying matches to the final.
Senegal scored nine goals from 81 attempts at the Cameroun 2021 with Sadio Mané being directly involved in nine (six goals, three assists).
Egyp are AFCON’s record seven-time champions — 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998 and back-to-back in 2006, 2008 and 2010 — all from 25 appearances.—Additional reporting by CAFonline