Sports Desk, Feb 6 (EFE).- Senegal won the African Cup of Nations for the first time on Sunday, prevailing over Egypt – the dominant team throughout the tourney – in a final penalty kick clash after a scoreless draw in regulation time at Olembe Stadium in Yaounde, Cameroon.
Egypt, having won the Africa Cup seven times before although the last one was in Angola in 2010, was unable to break Senegal’s defense throughout the match, but Senegal found themselves in the same position, although they controlled the pace of play for much of the 33rd edition of the final contest prior to a late push by their rivals.
Senegal had its best scoring chance just seven minutes into the action after Carlos Queiroz’s Egypt committed a foul in the box, but Liverpool’s Sadio Mane penalty kick from 11 meters did not find the twine as Egyptian netminder Mohamed Abou Gabal made a fabulous stop.
Although play ranged back and forth throughout regulation time, neither team was able to manufacture the proper combination to get on the board and the match was scoreless at the end of regulation.
With the situation the same after 30 minutes of extra time, although Gabal – known as Gabaski – making a brilliant save along with Senegal’s goaltender Edouard Mendy, who plays for Chelsea, the final match ultimately came down to a penalty kick shootout.
Mendy was able to make a fabulous save on a penalty kick by Mohanad Lasheen, thus clearing the way for Mane to fire a blast into the strings for the trophy.
Senegal’s long-awaited and much yearned-for victory, headed up by manager Aliou Cisse, came after the team had been defeated in two earlier Africa Cup finals, losing to Cameroon in Mali in 2002 and to Algeria in Egypt in 2019.
Senegal: Edouard Mendy; Bouna Sarr, Kalifou Koulibaly, Abdou Diallo, Saliou Ciss; Cheikhou Kouyate (Pape Gueye, m.66), Nampalys Mendy; Ismaila Sarr (Boulaye Dia, m.77), Idrissa Gueye, Sadio Mane; and Famara Diedhiou (Bamba Dieng, m.77).
Egypt: Gabaski; Emam Ashour, Mohamed Abdelmoneim, Mahmoud Hamdi, Mohamed Abo El Fotouh; Mohamed Elneny, Hamdi Fathi (Mohanad Lasheen, m.99), Amr El Solia (Trezeguet, m.58); Mohamed Salah, Omar Marmoush (Zizo, m.58) and Mostafa Mohamed (Marwan Hamdi, m.59).
Penalty shootout: 1-0, Koulibaly; 1-1, Zizo; 2-1, Diallo; 2-1, Abdlmonem (hit the post); 2-1, Sarr (saved by Gabaski); 2-2, Hamdi; 3-2, Dieng; 3-2, Lasheen (saved by Mendy); 4-2; Mane.