Senegal in party mode after African Nations Cup victory

Senegal in party mode after African Nations Cup victory

Senegal players celebrate with the trophy after defeating Egypt in the African Nations Cup final on Sunday. (AP pic)

DAKAR: Senegal erupted in celebration on Sunday night after its football team overcame Egypt to win the African Nations Cup, giving the West African country its first tournament win after decades of heartbreaking near misses.

Cheers, car horns and fireworks greeted the final whistle in the seaside capital Dakar after a hard-won victory in a penalty shootout that in an instant erased Senegal’s reputation as one of Africa’s underachieving footballing nations.

Thousands took to the streets. People waved flags from the sunroofs of speeding cars. Onlookers hugged and cried. Dozens ran onto a beach in a northern suburb, screaming to the night.

“Senegal has lost so many trophies in the final. This is a relief. Finally, we have it!” said Pape Malick Diba, a 31-year-old trader who danced with friends at a fanzone in Dakar where supporters struggled to see the screens through the crowds.

These were rare scenes of collective rapture for Senegalese football fans who have seen their fair share of sporting heartache, and who in the last two years have suffered the restrictions and economic hardship caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Senegal lost to Algeria in the final of the last tournament in 2019 but entered this year’s competition as favourites.

Their squad is full of stars from some of Europe’s top clubs, most famously Liverpool striker Sadio Mane, who scored the winning penalty in Sunday’s shootout in Cameroon’s capital Yaounde after missing a chance from the spot during regular time.

The victory ends a storied history of tough losses. In 2002 Senegal narrowly missed the opportunity to become the first African team to reach a World Cup semifinal, losing to Turkey in extra-time. That year they also lost in the final of the African Nations Cup.

In the 2018 World Cup they were eliminated at the group stage under a new rule that penalised.

Source: Malaysia free press.

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