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Sports News of Sunday, 13 February 2022


Roundup of AFCON 2021: Everything you need to know

Senegal beat Egypt in the final to win the  AFCON trophy Senegal beat Egypt in the final to win the AFCON trophy

Senegal won the African Cup of Nations after a month-long competition that showcased some of Africa's top football talent.

An unfortunate incident at the Olembe Stadium rocked the tournament. Congestion of spectators and a door opened at the wrong time led to the death of eight people, including a six-year-old child, on the day of Cameroon-Comoros.

The CAF president and tournament organizers visited the injured fans in the hospital and later families of the dead.

The competition featured some thrilling matches, including Gabon-Morocco (2-2), Comoros-Ghana (3-2), Egypt-Morocco (2-1), and Senegal-Burkina Faso (3-1), but the Senegal-Egypt final (0-0, 4-2 on penalties) was a heartbreaking, unwinnable affair, as is all too often the case: it was the fifth time in 11 editions that the final ended 0-0.

After two lost finals (2002, 2019), the "Lions of Teranga" are finally African champions. The most consistent team in the last four years, finalists in the previous edition, world champions in 2018, it crowns the work of coach Aliou Cissé, on the bench for nearly seven years, and his flock of stars: goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, defender Kalidou Koulibaly and the best player of the tournament, striker Sadio Mané.

Comoros demonstrated that there are no minos in football. Comoros got past the first round in their first attempt at this level, albeit their round of 16 matches was tarnished by the lack of a goalkeeper, one injured and two others impacted by Covid-19. The Gambia, headed by Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet and Bologna striker Musa Barrow, performed even better, reaching the quarter-finals.

Equatorial Guinea had previously participated in two African Cup of Nations tournaments, both of which it hosted (on their own and then with Gabon). They qualified for the first time on the field and advanced to the quarter-finals thanks to their multi-functional midfielder Iban Salvador Edu, the guy with the pink hair, the 'Gattuso of Malabo.'

Malawi's Gabadinho Mhango scored the tournament's winning goal in the round of 16 against Morocco, a strike from almost 40 yards with an extraordinary trajectory. It didn't avoid a 2-1 loss, but it did get the "Atlas Lions" started.

Vincent Aboubakar, Cameroon's captain, will not be comforted by his top scorer title. With eight goals, he equals the record of Laurent Pokou of Cote d'Ivoire (1970) and is just one goal behind Pierre Ndaye Mulamba of Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) (nine goals in 1974).

Algeria, the defending champions and tournament favorites, finished bottom of their group with just one goal after falling down 3-0 against Côte d'Ivoire.

Ghana, a regular in the last four, was also eliminated in the first round after captain Andre Ayew was issued a red card.

African football will not be inactive for long. All the play-offs for the World Cup in 2022 were there, except for the DRC, who will face Morocco. The game is still Senegal-Egypt, a rematch of the final, a new Sadio Mane-Mohamed Salah confrontation.