Senegal defeated Algeria 5-4 in a penalty shootout after a goalless but fiery final played on Saturday night, to win the African Nations Championship (CHAN 2022).
Senegal’s historic victory over hosts Algeria in the final of the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) 2022 equalled the playing field in what is growing to be a rivalry between the two of Africa’s top footballing nations.
The final was a replay of the TotalEnergies 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final with Algeria’s 1-0 win denying coach Alious Cisse’s Lions of Teranga the title, despite boasting a star-studded squad captained by Sadio Mane.
Senegal, who won their first-ever CHAN trophy, had previously won the AFCON 2021 and reclaimed the title from the Desert Foxes, just a year prior.
This triumph showcases the dominance of Senegal in both international and continental football, with a majority of the team consisting of locally based players.
The match was decided by a nail-biting penalty shootout. Senegal goalkeeper, Pape Mamadou Sy, and his Algerian counterpart, Alexis Guendouz, kept their nerves as the pressure mounted.
Algeria had the early advantage, but missed two consecutive penalties, handing the victory to Senegal through Ousmane Diouf’s final kick of the night.
Senegal coach, Pape Thiaw, was overjoyed and dedicated the win to a dear friend, Joseph Koto, the former coach of the team who had passed away.
“I thank God and praise be to God. We were crowned with the CHAN title on February 4 and we will celebrate it on February 6, in Senegal with our fans. I dedicate this title to a person very dear to me, Joseph Koto, the former coach of this team who passed away. This was his wish,” Thiaw, struggling to hold back his tears, told the media after winning the final.
“Our victory in Algeria means that our work succeeded. I thank Algeria for welcoming us, and I thank the coach of the Algerian national team [Madjid] Bougherra who did a good job and has previously won the FIFA Arab Cup,
“I did not doubt that we would not win. Not even for a single moment and I remained calm. Our players received messages of encouragement from our people and the Senegalese authorities,
“These young men wanted to raise the level of football. We are a country that exports its players abroad in abundance, and that is why we do not keep players with our local team,” The Local Lions of Teranga coach observed.
The African Nations Championship serves as the ultimate platform for undiscovered African talent, with strict eligibility criteria that only allow players who play within the continent.
Domestic league players are given the opportunity to showcase their skills to a global audience, potentially securing their place as the next big stars in African football.
The tournament has grown in popularity and importance over the years, providing a platform for talented players from across the continent to showcase their abilities.
Notably, Morocco, the African top-ranked nation and defending champions were excluded from the tournament due to a diplomatic breakdown with Algeria.
Their absence stood out all the more owing to them having made history by becoming the first African country to make it to the semi-final of a world cup at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, while Senegal was eliminated in the quarter-finals by England.
Despite Morocco’s absence, CHAN 2022 was a fantastic display of African football talent and a testament to the growth and development of the sport on the continent. The tournament gave fans a glimpse into the future of African football.