Yesterday February 6th, Senegal won the 2021 African Cup of Nations against the Pharaohs of Egypt to become the new champions. This was their first win in the history of the game. To be awarded the trophy after so many years of getting so close is a real joy. They came second at the last edition CAN 2019 missing the trophy against the Fennecs of Algeria. I am happy that with their Senegalese coach (not many African teams have African coaches these days), Senegal made us really proud.
The game opposed some of the biggest football players in the world Sadio Mané of Senegal and Mohamed Salah of Egypt, both of Liverpool FC. Sadio Mané, scored the winning penalty in the shootout against Egypt, having seen a first-half spot-kick saved as Sunday’s game ended in 0-0 after extra time. “It’s the best day of my life and the best trophy of my life,” the 29-year-old Liverpool forward said. “I won the Champions League and some [other] trophies but this is the special one for me. This is more important for me. … I am happy for myself, my people and all of my family.” Mane credits his team-mates with giving him the strength to return in the shootout, where he sealed a 4-2 triumph. “When I missed the first penalty, it was a big blow for me,” he said. “But my team-mates came to me and said ‘Sadio, we lose together and we win together. … The trophy belongs to the whole Senegal team – everyone deserves it.”
For Senegal’s coach Aliou Cissé, this marks a victory at his third attempt in the Nations’ Cup final. The 45-year-old captained the Teranga Lions when they finished as runners-up in 2002 – missing the decisive penalty in the shootout against Cameroon – and coached Senegal when they lost against Algeria in 2019. He dedicated the 2022 victory to his countrymen before his post-match press conference was interrupted by his squad for celebrations. … He said, “[this] really proves the mental strength of this generation. We are very happy, we dedicate this victory to the Senegalese people, because since independence until now we are running after this first star. … Today, we will also have a star on our shirt.”
As a result of their win, Senegal has declared Monday a national holiday to celebrate winning its first ever Africa Cup of Nations! It is also good to note that the Lions of Teranga of Senegal won against the Pharaohs of Egypt in the Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo in Cameroon. Many locals have claimed that the late Cameroonian President Ahidjo who is still buried in Senegal (story for another day), had been watching over the Senegalese team and blessing them, given that Senegal has been good to the previous president and his entire family.