The Africa Cup of Nations has been a really entertaining tournament up to this point, with the criminally underappreciated continent of Africa providing us with a series of great games, dramatic moments and breakout performances. Now, with the final ahead of us, it’s time to take a quick look back at the two nations who were able to confirm their place in the game this past weekend – as reported by BBC and, once again, BBC.
Senegal were first up and, despite being the favourites to win the whole thing at this stage, they still had their backs against the wall against a really tough Tunisia side. It was going to take an almighty effort for them to get the job done, especially with both sides missing penalties throughout the course of the game.
In the end, the encounter went all the way through to extra time, which is when the one and only goal of the game was scored. Ten minutes into the first period, Dylan Bronn’s own goal gave Senegal the lead, which they refused to surrender from that point on.
Now, Senegal will have the chance to make history when they attempt to win the Africa Cup of Nations for the very first time. Their opponents on that stage will be Algeria, who have won the tournament once back in 1990.
When it came to their showdown with Nigeria, things were even more dramatic. A Troost-Ekong own goal opened the scoring for Algeria five minutes before half time, but as things went on, you could feel the nerves starting to creep in for them.
An Ighalo penalty less than twenty minutes from full time ensured that Nigeria got themselves back onto level pegging, and with extra time looming, it seemed as if we were definitely going to get an extra 30 minutes of action at the very minimum.
Then, with the final kick of the game, Algeria’s superstar Riyad Mahrez stepped up and scored an utterly remarkable free kick in the 95th minute to send them through to the final.
The final countdown
Now, in the biggest game in African football, we’ll get a showdown that everyone is intrigued to see: Mane vs Mahrez. Both men quite clearly represent the best that their respective countries have to offer, and with that in mind, we can only imagine what kind of a game they’re going to help produce later on this week.
A win in this tournament will not only mean the world to the players and fans, but also the respective countries as a whole. It’s a great stepping stone with which to build on, especially with the 2022 FIFA World Cup being around three years away now.
Some have argued that we haven’t quite seen the tournament hit the right kind of heights up to this point, but even with that being the case, a lot of supporters have really enjoyed the action we’ve seen so far. Now, with two of the best teams in the continent remaining, we believe this final has a lot of potential.