Despite an unforgettable marathon tournament for Egypt, Senegal ended the fairytale and crowned champions of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) for the first time ever. Lions of Teranga beat Egypt 4-2 (0-0) on penalties to lift the precious trophy in Cameroon.
The Pharaohs, however, kept their record of the most successful nation in AFCON history with seven titles, followed by Cameroon with five continental titles.
It was an exhausting tournament for Egypt as all four of their knockout games went into extra time. In the final, Egypt and Senegal played 120 minutes but both failed to score any and went to penalty shootout.
The Egyptian team, who have the most AFCON final appearances (10 times), collected 6 points and scored just two goals in their three group matches, edging out Guinea-Bissau and Sudan with 1-0 scorelines after losing their tournament opener 1-0 to Nigeria.
In the knockout stage, they beat Ivory Coast 5-4 on penalties before edging out Morocco 2-1. Egypt reached the final after beating hosts Cameroon 3-1 on penalties in the semi-final.
Senegal played the AFCON final for the third time in their history and the second time in a row. They presented a solid performance throughout this tournament. The team’s coach Aliou Cisse at the helm in the 2021 and 2019 editions and was captain when Senegal lost to Cameroon in the 2002 tournament.
Senegal, too, had an ordinary performance in the group stage. Two stalemates against Guinea and Malawi followed a 1-0 win over Zimbabwe in the opener that helped them sneak through.
A 2-0 win over Cabo Verde, 3-1 scoreline against Equatorial Guinea, and another 3-1 win over Burkina Faso helped the side reach the final.
The 2021 AFCON final saw one of world football’s most exciting attacking duos facing off against each other as Liverpool star Mohamed Salah led Egypt against a Senegal side spearheaded by his club teammate Sadio Mane.