The stage is set for the final match of the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations as the Teranga Lions of Senegal will battle against Egypt’s Pharaohs at the Olembe Stadium, Yaoundé on Sunday night.
The Lions and the Pharaohs have enjoyed contrasting fortunes in AFCON tournaments.
While the North Africans are the tournament’s most successful team with seven titles, Senegal can only boast of making it to the final on two previous occasions but have never won the title.
However, Sadio Mane and his Senegal teammates will hope they can break their AFCON jinx tonight in Yaounde.
Losing twice in the final matches they played (2002 and 2019), Senegal will hope to be “third time lucky” in today’s final.
Road to the final
Even though unbeaten thus far, Senegal’s title credentials were initially doubted with the way and lethargic manner they started out in Cameroon.
The Teranga Lions laboured to beat lowly-ranked Zimbabwe 1-0 in their first game before going on to register two goalless draws with Guinea and Malawi to top their Group nonetheless,
Mane and his teammates however stepped up in the knockout phase; defeating Cape Verde 2-0, Equatorial Guinea 3-1 then Burkina Faso by the same score in the semi-final
As for Egypt, they picked themselves up fast enough after the loss in their opener to Nigeria.
Egypt went on to defeat 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 was successful in stopping the Pharaohs from making it into the final.
Stars on parade
Both Senegal and Egypt boast of star-studded squads which most countries on the continent will understandably covet.
For Senegal, Liverpool superstar Sadio Mane, Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly among others are expected to make a difference for their country.
For Egypt, Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah has been leading by example in every game with the needed support coming from the likes of goalkeeper Mohamed Abu Gabal who produced shootout heroics against Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon and will, once again, be the first line of the Pharaoh’s title quest.
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.”
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.”
Senegal vs Egypt
Date: 6 February 2022
Venue: Olembe Stadium, Yaoundé