AFCON 2021: How Senegal won Africa Cup of Nations
Football

AFCON 2021: How Senegal won Africa Cup of Nations

AFCON 2021 Highlights: How Senegal won Africa Cup of Nations

After a month of beautiful and enthralling football, the 2021 AFCON finally came to an end on Sunday, the 6th of February at the Olembe Stadium in Yaoundé, Cameroon, with Senegal and Egypt the two teams who would battle for glory.

But how exactly did Senegal win Africa Cup of Nations? {AFCON 2021}

how Senegal won Africa Cup of nations

This would be the 33rd AFCON finals since its inception in 1957 where Egypt was the first team to win the competition. Egypt is also the most successful team in the AFCON having won seven titles, two more than Cameroon’s five.

They have also won the most matches and have the record most appearances.

They are also the first team to win three titles in a row having done so between 2006 and 2010. The last team to win a title on home soil is also Egypt in 2010.

But success has been hard to come by recently after missing three consecutive AFCON from 2012-2015, losing a final in 2017 to Cameroon and a shocking exit in the round of 16 on home soil in 2019.

Senegal on the other hand were looking to get their hands on their first title in their 16th appearance after losing two finals- one in 2002 with present manager Aliou Cisse missing a spot kick to gift Cameroon the title and recently in 2019 to Algeria.

This Senegal side ranked 20th overall in the world is touted to be the golden generation of Senegalese football with more than half the team playing in top clubs in Europe.

They would be looking to make history and be the first set of players to bring the AFCON 2021 trophy to Senegal.  

How Senegal won Africa Cup of Nations

The anticipation for the game was sky high as it would feature arguably two of the best players in the world:Mohammed Salah of Egypt and Sadio Mane of Senegal who are team mates at club level and have won many trophies together.

But only one would be able to leave Cameroon with the coveted AFCON trophy. The FIFA best goal keeper of the year; Edouard Mendy would also be on parade for Senegal. 

The closing ceremony began with the President of the Federal Republic of Cameroon; his Excellency Paul Biya arriving at the stadium to greet the crowd.

After which there was a military parade of sorts. This was followed quickly by scintillating performances from some of Africa and Cameroon’s best artists.

South Africa’s Nomcebo Zikode was the opening act performing the worldwide hit ‘Jerusalema’. Other artists that blessed the stage with their magnificent performance were Salatiel, Daphne, Stanley Enow and James bks.

The closing ceremony ended with some dazzling and flamboyant fireworks and then it was time for the main spectacle of the night.

Both teams put up strong squads with few changes from the previous game. Egypt were without their manager Carlos Queiroz who was suspended. South African referee Victor Gomes was the centre official for the night. 

It didn’t take long for the drama to start as in the 5th minute Egypt’s Mohammed Abdelmonem brought down a Senegalese player in the box and a penalty was awarded to Senegal.

how did Senegal win afcon 2021

It was no other than Mane who would step up to take the penalty but not before his teammate turned rival Mo Salah appeared to give goal keeper Mohammed Abo ‘Gabaski’ Gabal  some tips.

The tips seemed to have worked as Gabaski would eventually save the penalty, the beginning of a momentous night for the Zamalek goal keeper. In the 18th min, Ismaila Sarr did well to beat his marker and drove a cross into the box but there was no one to make contact.

In the 22nd min, Sarr, who became a thorn in the Egyptian defence, sent another cross into the box but Mane narrowly missed the ball. The first half ended in a stale mate.

The second half started in the same fashion, with Senegal creating but not taking a lot of their chances while Egypt were more conservative and limited to a few half chances.

Egypt had Gabaski to thank for keeping Senegal off the score sheet with numerous world class saves.

Edouard Mendy would also make a few good saves at the other end but was rarely troubled on the night. Both Salah and Mane were kept relatively quiet too. 

how Senegal won Africa Cup of nations

After 90 minutes and no goals, the match went into extra time. Egypt became the first country to play extra time four times at a single AFCON tournament. 

In extra time, both teams earnestly tried to chase a late goal even though fatigue had started to wear in and most of the players looked tired.

Substitute Bamba Dieng of Olympique Marseille had his header saved by Gabaski in the 100th minute.

In the 114th minute, Bamba Dieng was denied again by Gabaski after a daring long range shot. Mendy also made a good save in the 116th minute after good work by the Egyptians.  No goals were scored after extra time too and it was straight to penalties to decide the AFCON 2021 winner.

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Senegal would go first with Captain Kalidou Koulibaly scoring the first penalty. Zizo took Egypt’s first and scored. Mohammed Abdelmonem fired Egypt’s second off the upright. But Senegal couldn’t capitalize as Bouna Sarr’s effort was saved by Gabaski.

Marwan Hamdy scored to bring the score level again before Mohanad Lasheen had his saved by Edouard Mendy to keep the score at 3-2. Then it was mane’s turn to take the decisive penalty, after missing early on, would he able to shake it off and deliver the trophy to Senegal?

How Senegal won Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2021)

Mane stepped up, took a deep breath and fired straight down to the left and sent Gabaski the wrong way to win Senegal their very first AFCON title.


The stadium erupted
as the Senegalese fans and players jumped round the stadium with ecstasy while the Egyptians broke down in tears.

Senegal finally won their first ever AFCON final at the third time of asking. But it would be heart break for Egypt who extend their wait for a record 8th title.

Egypt would however have a chance at revenge when both teams meet again in March for the world cup qualifiers.  


The AFCON 2021 awards list;

MVP of the tournamentSadio Mane (Senegal)

how Senegal won Afcon 2021

Goal keeper of the tournamentEdouard Mendy (Senegal)

how Senegal won Africa Cup of nations 2021

Top goal scorerVincent Aboubakar (Cameroon)

how did senegal win afcon 2021

Manager of the tournamentAliou Cisse (Senegal)

Young player of the tournamentIssa Kabore (Burkina Faso)

Fair play awardSenegal 

{See more AFCON 2021 pictures here}

After a wonderful tournament in Cameroon which started of slow but turned out to be well worth the hype, Senegal emerged champions of Africa.

We can’t wait to see all that unfolds in Ivory Coast for the African Cup of Nations in 2023.

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AFCON 2021 DAY 1 HIGHLIGHTS

AFCON 2021 MATCH DAY- Highlights

The African cup of nations-AFCON kicked off on the 9th of January 2021 at the Olembe stadium in Yaoundé, Cameroon with Cameroon vs. Burkina Faso. Since then there have been 12 matches played to round off match day 1 of the African tournament.

Below are the results of the matches;

GROUP A {Highlights}

■Cameroon vs. Burkina Faso

afcon 2021 how Senegal won Africa Cup of nations

Cameroon faced off against Burkina Faso for their first match of the AFCON with the Olembe stadium filled to the brim.

Both teams had lots of chances in the game although Burkina Faso would open the scoring when Gustavo Sangare finished sublimely after a cross from Bertrand Traore in the 24th minute.

The lead only lasted 16 minutes as Vincent Aboubakar would step up and score a penalty after Andre Anguissa was awarded a penalty by VAR (Video Assistant Referee) in the 40th minute.

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Three minutes later, Cameroon were awarded another penalty which captain Vincent Aboubakar had no problem putting in the back of the net, the score 2-1 at halftime.

They were no goals in the second half. Cameroon start their AFCON campaign on home soil with a win.

Ethiopia vs. Cape Verde

Afcon 2021 how did Senegal win Africa Cup of nations

Cape Verde went into their Group A encounter missing their manager and nine other players due to covid-19.

In the 12th minute, VAR would upgrade Ethiopia’s Yared Baye’s yellow to a red card after a foul on Julio Traveres who would go on to score the winner in the injury time of the first half.

Cape Verde manage a win against 10 man Ethiopia despite being covid hit.

Group B {Highlights}

Senegal vs. Zimbabwe

how did Senegal win afcon 2021

Senegal, runner-ups in the previous AFCON and tournament favourites began their campaign against Zimbabwe. All through the match, Senegal had more possession of the ball but both teams had lots of chances to score.

It looked like Zimbabwe were going to pull off an upset and hold Senegal to a draw, but in injury time a penalty was awarded to Senegal after the ball was handled in the area. Sadio Mane stepped up to finish coolly and award Senegal all 3 points.


■Guinea vs. Malawi

Afcon 2021 how did Senegal win

Naby Keita’s guinea vs. Malawi was the other match in group B. Issiaga Sylla’s 35th minute goal proved to be the difference for guinea has they beat Malawi 1-0 to secure all 3 points and join Senegal at the top of group B.

Group C {Highlights}

Morocco vs. Ghana
One of the most anticipated matches of match day 1, these matchup between two of Africa’s heavyweights could easily have been a 3rd place match up or the final itself.

Morocco had the most possession and created lots of chances while Ghana struggled to get in the game although managed to keep the score line at 0-0 until the 83rd minute when Sofianne Boufal popped in the Ghanaian box 18 to score what would be the winner for Morocco.

Ghana have their work cut out for them in match day 2.

Comoros vs. Gabon

This was Comoros first AFCON appearance in their history and they were determined to make it a memorable one. Gabon were without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and a few others as a result of testing positive for covid 19 but that didn’t stop them from defeating an inexperienced Comoros side 1 nil.

Gabon took all 3 points, a huge win for them in their quest to qualify for the knockout stages.

Group D {Highlights}

Nigeria vs. Egypt

how Senegal won Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021 how Senegal won afcon 2021

Another blockbuster match that featured some of the English Premier League’s biggest stars; Kelechi Iheanacho, Wilfred Ndidi and arguably the best player in the world Mohammed Salah.

This was Nigeria and Egypt’s first meeting in the AFCON since the Pharaohs beat the Super Eagles 3-1 at the 2010 group stages. The outcome of this match would however be far different. Nigeria controlled the game and created lots of chances and finally broke the deadlock in the 30th minute when Joe Aribo headed down to Kelechi ‘senior man kelz’

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Iheanacho who controlled the ball beautifully and delivered a sumptuous finish to give Nigeria the lead. Nigeria would have many chances to increase the lead but failed to take their chances.

Egypt on the other hand struggled to create anything against a rejuvenated Nigeria side with Mohammed Salah limited to only one shot on target.

Nigeria would eventually win the game 1-0, a massive boost for a team that looked down on confidence. Egypt are bottom of the group and have their work cut out for them

Sudan vs. guinea Bissau

Afcon 2021 how did Senegal win

Sudan headed into this AFCON with a new manager after relieving the old one of his duties due to a poor run of matches. The game was mostly balanced with both sides creating few chances.

In the 82nd minute a penalty was awarded to Sudan by VAR. Pele stepped up to take it but his effort was well wide. The match would end in a stalemate.

Group E

Algeria vs. Sierra Leone

how did Senegal win afcon 2021

The defending champions began their quest for a third AFCON against Sierra Leone. The match would end in goalless draw. A huge result for Sierra Leone in a tough group.

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Algeria would create lots of chances and attempted numerous shots on goal but just couldn’t hit the target with Yacine Brahimi and Said Benrahma both missing clear cut chances.

Credit also goes to Sierra Leone who put in one of the best defensive performances at the AFCON so far. With goal keeper Mohamed Kamara emerging the man of the match.

Equatorial Guinea vs. Ivory Coast

Afcon 2022 how Senegal won

Ivory Coast captain, Max Gradel scored with a spectacular finish from outside the box just 5 minutes in to the game. Equatorial Guinea appealed for a foul in the build up to the goal but the goal stood. Equatorial Guinea had chances of their own but couldn’t find the target.

Substitutes for Ivory Coast, Nicolas Pepe had his shot saved by the goal keeper and Wilfred Zaha fired wide. Ivory Coast would win 1-0 and go top of the group after Algeria’s draw.

Group F

Tunisia vs. Mali

how Senegal won afcon 2021

The first half ended in a stalemate. In the 48th minute, Ibrahima Kone scored a penalty which was awarded after the ball struck the back of the arm of Ellyes Skhiri.

In the 77th minute Tunisia would have a penalty of their own but Wahbi Kaziri’s shot was well saved by the Malian goalkeeper.

The biggest drama, however, would happen late in the half when Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe, despite two VAR checks and a water break ended the game with five minutes still left on the clock, he checked his timings and restarted the match but then stopped the game again 13 seconds to the 90th minute mark without adding any stoppage time.

Sikazwe and his assistants had to be escorted off the pitch by security personnel but it didn’t end there. 20 minutes later CAF officials ordered both teams back on the pitch to finish the game after all the press interviews had been done and Tunisian players had reportedly gotten in the ice bath.

The Malian players got back on the pitch but the Tunisian players refused to get back on the pitch. Mali were awarded the 1-0 victory. The Tunisian F.A is said to have appealed the match.

Mauritania vs. Gambia

here is how Senegal won Afcon 2021

Gambia were the lowest ranked team going into the AFCON finals. It was also their first ever AFCON. They couldn’t have asked for a better start when in the 10th minute Ablie Jallow scored their very first AFCON goal.

Mauritania had 61 percent of the possession and had a total of 20 attempts on goal but could not score a single goal. Gambia would hold on for their first ever win at the AFCON.

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Emeka Chigbo is a writer at The Scoove Africa. He has major interests in Contemporary music

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