By Marygorret Nzuki
Senegal will take on Algeria in the finals tonight (Friday) after 29 days of African Cup of Nations’ action at Cairo International stadium. Sadio Mane’s Senegal take on Riyad Mahrez’ Algeria. The competition has seen debutants such as Madagascar outshine long-time favourites, while continent football giants have fallen on their knees.
With Nigeria firmly securing the third place spot after Ighalo put one past Tunisia, the battle for the crown of the continent’s greatest is on. The final is expected to be a thriller as there is a lot of history between the two teams; their coaches and their top players.
Senegal last final was in 2002. They have made it to their first final in 17 years after a thrilling penalty shoot-out with Cameroon, a game that saw their main talisman (Mane) missing his penalty kick. Algeria, also among the top underperforming teams, has not been in a final since 1990.
Sadio mane has a chance of improving his chances for the D’or trophy after a successful season with Liverpool, finishing joint to scorer Mohammed Salah and Aubameyang, and after winning the champions league. Riyad marez won a domestic treble with Manchester united and is fighting his spot in the first team. Hence there is everything to lose.
Both semi-finals lived up to the high expected in the final. When the two sides met in their group stage encounter, Algeria dominated, drew first blood and won the match. Senegal go into this match without centre back Kalidou Koulibaly, hence will require their attack to step up their game.
The finals will be in showpiece and will have football supporters at the edge of their seats. Whichever team will utilize their chances and defend well, will be smiling all the way home.