By; Zoom Lloyd Dosso Jr
Senegal were crowned champions of Africa for the first time after Sadio Mane scored the winning penalty
It was the end of a month-long championship in Cameroon that saw 24 teams compete for the biggest title in African football.
The final was dreadful but in the end it came down to a moment of the purest drama and the great redemption of Sadio Mané. He had missed a penalty in normal time. Senegal had wasted chance after chance. They had twice lost in finals before. Egypt are the kings of penalties. They had won their last six shootouts and had played for penalties from the off. But Mané, unexpectedly, was left with a penalty to win it.
It was not just that Abou Gabal had saved his earlier penalty, apparently after Mohamed Salah, Mané’s Liverpool teammate, had told him which way to dive. Mané had also missed against Kenya and Uganda in 2019 and, more consequently, the decisive kick in the quarter-final shootout against Cameroon in the quarter-final in 2017. And Abou Gabal had already saved five penalties in the tournament.
Mané took a long run-up and, with a great cathartic release, drilled his shot low and extremely hard to his left. Abou Gabal could not get down and Senegal, at last, had their first Cup of Nations triumph.