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The players of Senegal did not hide their joy, Sunday evening, after the first coronation of their history, obtained at the end of the suspense against Egypt.
This title of African champion, Senegal had been waiting for it for 3 years, 20 years, 57 years… Three years since this lost final cruelly in Egypt against Algeria. Twenty years since this other final lost against Cameroon in 2012 when Aliou Cissé, the coach of the Lions of Teranga, was still a player. Fifty-seven years since the first of their 16 appearances in Africa Cup, a record for the number of competitions played without a title.
So when Sadio Mané put his shot on goal in the bottom, the fifth of the session and the one who finally offered the desired title to Senegal, the Senegalese burst: on the ground, we saw dances, we saw joy, we saw tears, we saw the awareness of the weight of history written by the 28 men of Aliou Cissé.
“This year was the good one”
In the mixed zone, the Lions of Teranga did not have the head in the interviews. They preferred to continue enjoying the moment, singing loud music, waving their flags and above all hugging the gold medal they had been waiting for for years.
“We’ve been waiting for it for years and this year it was the right one”, savored Cheikhou Kouyaté at the microphone of France 24. “They wanted to take us [aux penalties] and so we thought we were going to win it [aux penalties].”
“There are a lot of emotions that mix. There is joy. There is pride. Happiness and a great relief necessarily. I think we don’t yet realize what we have done” , notes Abdou Diallo.
“It’s something grand. We made a lot of sacrifices to get there and it’s done! We marked the history of our country,” rejoices Nampalys Mendy.
“We wanted to offer that to our people. I remember being laughed at. Everyone said that we always had a good team and that we never won”, savors Idrissa Gueye.
“We will bring others back”
Senegal has finally won this trophy which it missed so much after two failures in the final. Two failures experienced by Aliou Cissé, first as a player in 2002, then as a coach in 2019.
“I am very happy. It proves again that with hard work, perseverance, never being discouraged, we manage to get what we want. We are proud, very proud, because we are winning against to Egypt, which has seven African Cups, that’s not nothing. I’m very moved, because we won this Cup for all the Senegalese people who have been asking for it for more than 60 years. We too, we will have our star”, savored the coach, before seeing his press conference interrupted by his men.
“I hope that we will not stop and that we will bring others back,” Nampalys Mendy is already planning.
🇸🇳🦁 “I remember people, they laughed at us, they said ‘every time you have a good team, but you never win it’, this time it’s the right one!”
— FRANCE 24 French (@France24_fr) February 7, 2022