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“We are African champions”: All of Senegal celebrates the cup triumph

Sadio Mané looked a little dreamy in his hotel bed with a medal around his neck and a trophy in his arm.

“Did you sleep well?” asked eager association employees on Twitter about the corresponding pictures after the Senegalese national soccer team triumphed for the first time at the Africa Cup.

And the party in the West African country was far from over: around noon, the big reception at home was due, and President Macky Sall was also expected at the airport. “We won as a team, as a country,” said goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.

Penalty shootout decision

Victory in the final against seven-time African champions Egypt, led by Mané’s Liverpool team-mate Mohamed Salah, was hard-fought. After 120 goalless minutes, the decision was made on penalties, the decisive shot converted to 4:2: Mané, of course.

The 29-year-old was also named player of the tournament after missing a penalty kick in the 7th minute of the final. “It was a long journey, it was difficult and sometimes complicated. But we never gave up,” said coach Aliou Cissé.

The Africa Cup corresponds in its continental importance to the European Championship – and the enthusiasm in the Olembé Stadium was correspondingly lacking. Fireworks, drums, flags: the victory of the lions of Teranga, the title of the national team, attracted young and old to the streets during the night.

Even the noisy vuvuzela – the long horn that characterized the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa – was dug out again and blown vigorously. Ursula von der Leyen apparently had a sense of timing: the President of the EU Commission will arrive in Senegal’s capital Dakar this week.

Proud Cisse: “We are African champions”

The pictures from the final shaped this year’s Africa Cup – as did the shocking scenes at the end of January. Before the round of 16, a mass panic in front of the Stade d’Olembé in the capital of host Cameroon had cost the lives of eight people.

But it kept playing. Football should help – also to make people forget the political instability in Cameroon with coups and attempted coups or the serious economic consequences of the corona restrictions for the moment.

Senegalese from all over the world posted scenes of exuberant joy on social media: finally another reason to proudly wave the national flag at home.

No wonder President Sall declared Monday a holiday for the victory-drunk population. Congratulations even came from the head of the African Union (AU), Moussa Faki Mahamat.

“We are African champions,” said coach Cissé, who as a player was narrowly defeated in the 2002 final. “It shows the mental strength of this generation.”

20 years ago, Senegal lost to Cameroon on penalties, and Cissé was one of the misses. “I dedicate this trophy to Aliou Cisse,” Mané said, according to media reports. “When I missed the penalty (in the 7th minute) I immediately thought of him – and when I converted the last penalty I immediately thought of him again.”

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