AFCON 2021 Final
AFCON trophy.

The African Cup of Nations (AFCON) comes to conclusion on Sunday, February 6, 2022, with a mouthwatering encounter between West African giants Senegal and North African giants Egypt.

The AFCON parading some of the finest football players on the planet has held the world spellbound with scintillating performances in the past month. The climax of it all will see two Liverpool superstars Sadio Mane for Senegal and Mohamed Salah for Egypt fighting to take the trophy home.

How the two teams got into Sunday’s final

Both teams started the tournament slowly but it was Egypt who exactly started with a loss after Nigeria beat them 1-0 in their opening group game. The Faroes, however, managed to win their remaining two group matches against Guinea Bissau and Sudan with a narrow 1-0 respectively and automatically made it to the round of 16 as runners up to Nigeria who won the group with a 100% win record.

Coming out of the group stage with not so convincing performance, Egypt were paired with Ivory Coast in the round of 16. After going full 90 minutes and extra 30 minutes without a goal from either side, the game with Ivory Coast entered into a penalty shootout with Egypt triumphing 5-4.

After navigating their way through the round of 16, the road to the final was only going to get bumpier for the Faroes as they were matched up against fellow North African giants Morocco. It was a match that lived up to expectations but after an exhilarating encounter that lasted for 120 minutes, it was the Egyptians who took the day with a 2-1 win.

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With the win over Morocco, every doubt about the Faroes going all the way again seemed to have fizzled out with their newfound confidence spurring them, but again a tough test awaited them in the semifinal where the host country Cameroon were waiting to take them on. That encounter with Cameroon came and passed and again, the Faroes triumphed 3-1 on penalties after their keeper saved two of Cameroon’s spot-kicks.

Senegal on the other hand as one of the favourites did not start emphatically but they continued to improve game after game as the tournament progressed. In their first group match, it took the Terenga Lions a penalty in the 97th minute to win Zimbabwe 1-0. That result was followed by dull draws against Guinea and Malawi. In the round of 16, they eventually ran out 2-0 winners against Cape Verde in the second half after a boring first half.

Senegal became more purposeful and ruthless in the latter stages of the tournament, beating both Equatorial Guinea and Burkina Faso 3-1 in the quarterfinal and semifinal respectively. This now sets the stage for the final with the Faroes of Egypt.

Who goes home with the top price on Sunday?

At this stage, both Senegal and Egypt deserve to win the AFCON 2021 trophy but it can only be one team, and being the record winner of the competition with 7 titles, the Faroes will always be many peoples favourites.

However, I believe it’s high time Senegal won it. It is true this is their third final appearance but they have been on the grind for so long and have produced teams worthy of becoming champions. A great Terenga Lions team was stopped from lifting this trophy for the first time by Cameroon in 2002. That team later went on to reach the quarterfinal of the World Cup in Korea/Japan that year. They came close again in the last AFCON and were narrowly beaten in the final by Algeria.

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Why Senegal Should Win it.

Senegal is one of the best teams in Africa at the moment and parades some of the biggest stars in Europe like Sadio Mane of Liverpool, Koulibali of Napoli, and Eduoard Mendy of Chelsea among others. They topped their World Cup qualifying group with 16 points and were unbeaten in the group.

The Terenga Lions remains one of the best teams on the continent to never have won the AFCON, but with the crop players that got to the finals the last time out still intact and better experienced now with few new stars joining, they will go one step better and finally end the AFCON hoodoo in Cameroon against 7-time champions Egypt.

 

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vantage News Nigeria or any employee thereof.

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