By Isaac Akugizibwe
KIU, Main Campus - Sadio Mane scored a decisive penalty to give Senegal a 4-3 victory over seven time record champions Egypt in spotkicks, an assurance that the Lions of Teranga were African champions for the first time ever in their sixteen years trial.
The Liverpool forward had earlier on missed a chance to put his country ahead in the fourth minute when his effort was saved from the spot by the eventual man of the match Gabaski. This Egyptian custodian was at his very best to keep the hungry lions at bay for 120 minutes. He deserved an award not less than the man of the match accolade.
"Justice in football is reachable," said Uganda Cranes coach while giving his post match reaction on UBC.
To Micho, Senegal's class in all their failed attempts had never been treated to justice. They have always had the best squads with the best players but had failed to win the greatest footballing glory in Africa until they finally set their mark in Cameroon 2021.
"Justice has finally gone to Senegal and my friend Aliou Cisse," he remarked.
This was Senegal's fourth Africa Cup of Nations final, having failed to win at their last three attempts with the most recent being the 2019 edition when they lost to a Riyad Mahrez inspired Algeria. For Coach Aliou Cisse, this victory was a true fruition of pain, persitence, patience and pedigree.
The Lions of Teranga also won two of the individual awards with Sadio Mane taking the Most Valuable Player accolade while goal keeper Eduord Mendy scooped the 'best goal Keeper' of the tournament award. The other awards headed to Egypt and Cameroon with Vicent Abubaker claiming the top scorer's award having scored eight goals. Goal Keeper Abou Gabal Gabaski was named man of the match.
The tenacity and intensity produced by the 2021 AFCON final is enough evidence that the African game is aiming for the sky. How about the star factor? This final had the best players in the world in every department though Senegal takes a lion's share perhaps another reason to their victory. Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly, Iddrissa Gueye Gana, Sadio and Mohammed Salah for Egypt are undisputable international stars.