AFCON Match Preview: Senegal Aim To Break Final ‘Curse’ Against Egypt

Senegal will battle Egypt in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday, aiming to exorcise demons of two defeats in the final of the continental showpiece.


A photo combination showing Mane and Salah.
A photo combination showing Mane and Salah.

 

Senegal will battle Egypt in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday, aiming to exorcise demons of two defeats in the final of the continental showpiece.

The Teranga Lions have been to two AFCON finals but never tasted glory. In 2019, they lost to Algeria in Egypt. This came 18 years after suffering defeat to Cameroon in the 2002 final held in Mali.

Coach Aliou Cisse, who was in charge when the team lost in 2019, was also part of the side that fell to Cameroon 20 years ago, missing a penalty in the shoot-out.

Egypt, however, will be seeking to stretch their AFCON record. Having won the biennial competition seven times, a win in Sunday’s final will take their tally to eight, three more than Cameroon, the nation with the second-highest AFCON titles.

Liverpool duo of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah headline the final of the tournament. Both have had fine competition so far and fans expect them to give a spark to the game.

READ ALSO: Mane Urges Senegal To ‘Go All The Way’ And Lift Cup Of Nations

Senegal’s Road To Final

Senegal’s players (FromL) in back row, defender Abdou Diallo, midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate, forward Famara Diedhiou, goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, defender Kalidou Koulibaly, forward Bamba Dieng in front row defender Saliou Ciss, forward Sadio Mane, defender Bouna Sarr, midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye and midfielder Nampalys Mendy pose before the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 semi-final football match between Burkina Faso and Senegal at Stade Ahmadou-Ahidjo in Yaounde on February 2, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

Senegal were in Group B of the continental football competition. In their opening fixture, they defeated a determined Zimbabwe 1-0, thanks to a Sadio Mane late penalty. They, however, failed to win their last two group games, drawing goalless with Guinea and Malawi to secure a place in the knockout stages.

Despite a shaky start to the campaign, the West Africans beat Cape Verde 2-0 in the round of 16 before a resounding 3-1 victory over Equatorial Guinea at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in the quarter-final. Burkina Faso then slumped 3-1 to Senegal as they sealed a place in the final of this year’s edition of the competition.

Team News For Senegal

Senegal does not have any injury worries going into Sunday’s clash. Once more, they would be relying on Liverpool forward, Mane, to lead them to victory. Chelsea goalkeeper, Edouard Mendy and Napoli defender, Kalidou Koulibaly among others are all fit for the encounter.

Speaking ahead of the game, Coach Cisse said his players are ready for the battle. According to him, their opponents are not new to them. The push, for the side, the coach noted, is the desire to win a first continental crown.

“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. We will have to take advantage of the moment,” the coach, who played at the 2002 World Cup, added.

“We lost two finals in the past, but this time we will approach the match with more determination”.

The Pharaohs’ AFCON Journey


(Top L-R) Egypt’s goalkeeper Mohamed Abogabal, midfielder Amr al Suleya, defender Mohamed Abdel-Moneim, midfielder Hamdy Fathy, forward Omar Marmoush, forward Mostafa Mohamed, (bottom L-R) forward Mohamed Salah, midfielder Mohamed Elneny, defender Omar Kamal, defender Mahmoud ‘El Wensh’ Hamdy and defender Ahmed Abou el Fotouh pose prior to the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 semi-final football match between Cameroon and Egypt at Stade d’Olembe in Yaounde on February 3, 2022. CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP

 

After losing to Nigeria in their opening game, the record holders managed just two goals in the group stage, beating Guinea-Bissau and Sudan one goal each. Interestingly, all their knockout matches have gone into extra time, beginning with the victory (5-4 on penalties) over Ivory Coast. They later edged out rivals, Morocco 2-1 in the quarter-final. One of their biggest tests in the competition came when they faced hosts Cameroon in the semi-final. The 2006 champions, again, needed a penalty shootout to beat their opponents 3-1 after normal and extra time ended in a barren draw.

Egypt Team News

Starman, Salah, is expected to lead the Pharaohs as they file out against Senegal this evening. While he has been largely quiet this tournament when compared to Mane, he has two goals and an assist to his name so far. Aside from the 29-year-old, Egypt will be missing injured Mohamed Elshenawy. Mohamed Abu Gabal is expected to equally continue his heroics from the Cameroonian match as his country aim to stretch their continental dominance. Coach Carlos Queiroz will not be on the touchline following a red card in the semi-final win. He is serving a two-match ban but will work remotely with the team.

Egyptian manager, Wael Gomaa, admits that the extra time his time have played so far may impact their play, but he believes the players are ready to go the extra mile against a ruthless Senegal.

“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,” he said in a pre-match conference.

“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: Head To Head

Both sides have met 12 times. Senegal defeated Egypt on four occasions and drew two while Egypt recorded victory six times.

The North African side have won the competition in 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008, 2010 while Senegal were runner-up in 2002 and 2019.

Time For Senegal Vs Egypt Match

The game will start at 8:00 pm Nigerian (WAT) time.