Though winning the Africa Cup of Nations was the main deal, the Senegal duo of Sadio Mane and Edouard Mendy was also rewarded with individual awards for their contribution to the Teranga Lions’ historic feat in Cameroon.
Mane, who scored the decisive penalty in Sunday’s final against Egypt, was named as the Most Valuable Player, MVP of the tournament.
The Liverpool forward showed a high level of composure when it mattered most as he atoned for a missed penalty just seven minutes into the final when goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal made a save from his delayed kick.
It was full circle for Mane, who was part of the Senegal team that lost to Algeria three years ago in Cairo, in the previous final.
While many may not fault the emergence of Mane as the MVP, it might not be the same for Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy who was the surprise choice as goalkeeper of the tournament.
The heroic performances of Egypt goalkeeper, Abou Gabal stood him out but the Chelsea goalkeeper was maybe chosen because Senegal conceded just two goals throughout the tournament.
Chelsea shot-stopper Mendy had a relatively comfortable tournament thanks to a brilliant Kalidou Koulibaly-marshalled defence, but Abou Gabal excelled under constant pressure in four knockout matches.
Apart from blocking the Mane penalty in regular time, Abou Gabal made a string of superb saves to keep Senegal goalless in the final, and he wept after the shootout loss.
Undisputedly, Cameroon captain Vincent Aboubakar received the Golden Boot award for finishing as the top scorer with eight goals, including two in a dramatic third-place victory over Burkina Faso on Saturday
He just missed matching the single Cup of Nations tournament record of nine goals set in 1974 by now deceased Ndaye Mulamba of Zaire (later renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo).
For the coach of the tournament, the Senegal coach Aliou Cissé was the smart choice as the 45-year old ensured that six of the last nine AFCON titles have been won by indigenous coaches.
As the captain of the Teranga Lions, Cisse lost in the final in 2002, and that was the case while he was the coach in 2019, but on Sunday in Yaounde, he was third time lucky; leading his country to a deserved AFCON triumph.
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