Senegal and Egypt will face off in the finals of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday at Paul Biya Stadium.
We’re expecting fireworks when Liverpool’s Sadio Mané and Mo Salah square off on the pitch in the final matchup on Sunday.
Route to Final
Senegal, who finished second in the 2019 AFCON after losing to Algeria in the final, qualified for this year’s final with a 3-1 victory over Burkina Faso, with Sadio Mane scoring late to secure the win.
Senegal was hamstrung by playing twice in the heat of early kick-offs during the group round, but they could have done better than a 97th-minute winner over Zimbabwe and uninspiring draws with Guinea and Malawi.
After another sluggish first half against Cape Verde in the Round of 16, they eventually won 2-0 despite losing Mane to a head injury.
They’ve been more aggressive in the later rounds, winning 3-1 against Equatorial Guinea and Burkina Faso owing to excellent second-half displays.
EGYPT ADVANCE TO THE AFCON FINAL ??
Liverpool teammates Sadio Mane and Mo Salah will face-off to see who become champions of Africa ? pic.twitter.com/jWbmjzvaEv
— International Champions Cup (@IntChampionsCup) February 3, 2022
On the other hand, Egypt advanced to the final after a drawn-out battle with hosts Cameroon, who choked in the penalty shootout to exit on home soil.
They overcame an early defeat by Nigeria to defeat Guinea-Bissau and Sudan and proceed. Egypt was more expansive against an Ivory Coast team who opened up a little more, registering over 20 chances during the game before winning in a penalty shootout.
They showed their character again in the quarterfinals, roaring back after surrendering an early goal to win extra time when Salah played in Trezeguet, before defeating Cameroon on penalties in Olembe on Thursday to reach their ninth final.
Head coach Aliou Cisse will have a few complaints following their recent performance. Therefore, he will almost certainly field the same starting lineup.
Mane, who has two goals in three knockout games, will be aiming for another in the championship game.
So far, the Pharaohs have needed extra time to win all three of their knockout stage games, including two penalty shootouts. This may have resulted in tiredness, and manager Carlos Queiroz will consider adjusting his side slightly.
Nonetheless, anticipate Salah to lead the line for them, as the Liverpool star aims to score a goal or two in the finals.
Predicted Starting XI
Edouard Mendy (GK); Bouna Sarr, Kalidou Koulibaly, Abdou Diallo, Saliou Ciss; Cheikhou Kouyate, Nempalys Mendy; Bamba Dieng, Idrissa Gueye, Sadio Mane; Famara Diedhiou.
Mohamed Sobhi (GK); Omar Kamal, Ahmed Hegazy, Mohamed Abdelmonem, Ahmed Fatouh; Ayman Ashraf, Mohamed Elneny, Amr El Solia; Mohamed Salah, Mostafa Mohamed, Trezeguet.
Head to Head
Looking back at Senegal vs Egypt, Egypt came out on top with six wins from twelve games to Senegal’s four, with two matches ending in a tie.
Egypt also has an advantage in the Afcon event, having won the trophy a record-breaking seven times. Mo Salah and his teammates will be looking for another victory, but they will be without coach Carlos Queiroz, who was suspended following last Thursday’s quarterfinal match against Cameroon.
On the other side, Senegal has yet to win the Afcon Cup, having come close in the previous edition but lost 1-0 to Algeria. They’ll be seeking to avenge their defeat by defeating Egypt this Sunday.
Fans in Cairo celebrated Egypt making the AFCON final ? pic.twitter.com/Af9T9pmyGg
— B/R Football (@brfootball) February 4, 2022
Throughout the Afcon 2021 campaign, the Lions of Teranga have put on an incredible football performance, dominating their group stage and knockout round and blazing to the final. They’re now in peak shape and have a strong defence as well as an offensive game.
On the other hand, Egypt has fallen short of expectations and will require tremendous effort to defeat a strong opponent this year. Senegal is our pick to win the trophy.