Egypt suffer agonising shootout loss to Senegal in AFCON final

Egypt missed out on a record-extending eighth African Nations Cup crown in heartbreaking fashion, losing to Senegal 4-2 on penalties following another 0-0 draw as Sadio Mane gave his side their maiden title on Sunday.

Hatem Maher , Monday 7 Feb 2022,
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Egypt
Egypt s forward Mohamed Salah walks past the trophy after loosing the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 final football match between Senegal and Egypt at Stade d Olembe in Yaounde on February 6, 2022. شبح

The Pharaohs rode their luck against an electric Senegalese side for 120 minutes, with keeper Mohamed Abou-Gabal producing a string of impressive saves to keep them at bay.

He blocked an early penalty from Mane and kept out three near-certain goals from substitute Bamba Dieng in extra time.

Although Egypt prevailed in two shootouts against Cote d'Ivoire and Cameroon in the round of 16 and semi-final respectively, they were not as lucky when it mattered most.

Promising defender Mohamed Abdel-Moneim fired a low penalty against the post and Mohanad Lasheen had his tame shot saved by Edouard Mendy, with Abou-Gabal's save from an effort by Bouna Sarr not enough as Mane drilled the winner into the bottom corner.

The defeat marked Egypt's first shootout loss in the Nations Cup since 1984.

Salah, who was well shackled amid little assistance from his retreating teammates, shed tears following the final whistle after missing out on his first ever title with Egypt. He also came close in 2017 but Egypt lost 2-1 to Cameroon in the final.

Abou-Gabal also wept while receiving the man of the match award, saying the prize mattered little following the loss.

Egypt will still have a chance for redemption when they clash with Senegal again in a decisive two-legged World Cup qualifying playoff next month for a place in the Qatar finals.

Worn-out

Draped in an Egypt flag, Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz watched from the stands as he served the first of a two-game suspension.

He would not have been pleased with how Egypt started as they struggled to contain Senegal's vibrant attack from the outset, with the Teranga Lions mounting an early onslaught.

Egypt looked worn out after becoming the first team in the Nations Cup history to play four extra times in a single tournament, with Senegal appearing much fresher.

Makeshift right-back Emam Ashour, a natural midfielder who replaced injured full-back Omar Kamal, was particularly exposed and he was at fault when his late interception allowed Senegal to make an inroad behind him in a move that resulted in an early penalty.

In a desperate attempt to stop the danger, Abdel-Moneim, an otherwise commanding figure in central defence, made a mis-timed tackle that brought down Senegal's left-back Saliou Ciss as South African referee Victor Gomes instantly pointed to the spot.

Mane stepped up but had his powerful shot straight to the middle brilliantly saved by Abou-Gabal, whose spot-kick heroics were key in Egypt's round of 16 and semi-final wins over Cote d'Ivoire and Cameroon respectively.

Senegal continued to launch waves of attacks from both flanks, although their repeated crosses went begging despite some slack marking from Egypt defenders.

Salah cut an isolated figure at the other end but still went close two minutes before the break following a fine individual effort.

He twisted and turned past Abdou Diallo on the right hand side of the area before drawing a fine save from Mendy with a left-foot shot at his near post.

The second-half introduction of wingers Mahmoud Trezeguet and Ahmed Zizo injected some zeal into Egypt's game as they kept more possession of the ball to ease pressure on the under-siege backline.

Egypt had a rare chance to snatch a win on 75 minutes when substitute striker Marwan Hamdi leapt above his marker but headed wide from a good scoring position.

Senegal came out with all guns blazing in extra time, thanks to Marseille striker Dieng who wreaked havoc in the final third.

The 21-year-old broke clear following a threaded pass behind the defence on 91 minutes but Abou-Gabal dived to his left to smother his angled, low shot.

Abou-Gabal was on hand to deny him again 10 minutes later, producing another brilliant stop to push away a bouncing goal-bound header. In the second half of extra time, the Zamalek shot-stopper also thwarted a fierce long-range drive from Dieng.

Egypt survived until the final whistle but Senegal eventually ran out worthy winners.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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Group A W D L P
Cameroon
2 1 0 7
Burkina Faso
1 1 1 4
Cape Verde
1 1 1 4
Ethiopia
0 1 2 1
Group B W D L P
Senegal
1 2 0 5
Guinea
1 1 1 4
Malawi
1 1 1 4
Zimbabwe
1 0 2 3
Group C W D L P
Morocco
2 1 0 7
Gabon
1 2 0 5
Comoros
1 0 2 3
Ghana
0 1 2 1
Group D W D L P
Nigeria
3 0 0 9
Egypt
2 0 1 6
Sudan
0 1 2 1
Guinea Bissau
0 1 2 1
Group E W D L P
Cote d Ivoire
2 1 0 7
Equatorial Guinea
2 0 1 6
Sierra Leone
0 2 1 2
Algeria
0 1 2 1
Group F W D L P
Mali
2 1 0 7
Gambia
2 1 0 7
Tunisia
1 0 2 3
Mauritania
0 0 3 0