Senegal defeated Algeria 5-4 on penalties in the championship game on Saturday, crushing Algeria’s devastating aspirations of winning the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) on home soil.
In front of 39,120 people on a chilly winter night at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers, the local Teranga Lions narrowly defeated the hosts in a very close final.
In a year in which they had won the renowned Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) as well as the Beach Soccer AFCON, Pape Thiaw’s team will look back and be happy of their performance on the night they completed the treble for the West African nation.
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The final, which would crown a new champion for the continental competition organized for players who compete in their domestic leagues, began with both teams appearing uncomfortable.
In the first half hour, the tension increased as Gabonese referee Pierre Ghislain Atcho issued four yellow cards, but they both soon calmed down and started to focus on getting the upper hand.
Both coaches Madjid Bougherra and Pape Thiaw sought to make some adjustments in the second half and increase their intensity while maintaining a balanced perspective on the game. It was 0-0 at the half.
The ball bounced off Senegal defender Cheikh Sidibe as he attempted to clear it away from Mokhtar Belkhither four minutes into the second half.
Despite his quick pass to Aimen Mahious, the forward’s effort was off-target, as was his follow-up attempt from a corner kick.
The Senegal bench was on the edge of their seats as Senegal came close to scoring in the 56th minute, but Diallo’s long-range attempt from beyond the box flew over the crossbar.
The Senegalese kept their shape as Mahious made a wonderful run into the box from the centre to pass to Zakaria Draoui and then Belkhither in the box, whose shot was stopped by Ousmane Diouf.
After regular time expired with no goals scored, extra time demanded even more concentration as both teams continued pressing up front without success.
Abderrahmane Ben Tahar received a pass from Mahious on the left wing in the 99th minute, and the latter promptly sent a high ball toward Zinnedine Belaid in the box.
However, Belaid’s header, which rose above the Senegalese defense, was easily intercepted by Pape Mamadou Sy, who was in a good position.
Mrezigue’s goal-bound shot was saved by Sy in the 105th minute, who was alert and stopped him from scoring.
After neither team scored, the game eventually ended in penalties.
Teungueth’s Elhadji Mooutarou Balde took the first shot for Senegal, sending it into the bottom corner past Alexis Guendouz, who made the correct guess but couldn’t handle the strength of the ball.
When Akram Djahnit made his attempt, he hesitated.
Sy quickly saved it through the middle to find the back of the net, but Sy strayed from his line.
With his second try, Djahnit made no mistakes, sending the ball into the left corner to tie the score for the home team.
Moussa Ndiaye of Senegal scored a goal through the middle past Guendouz to put the Teranga Lions up 2-1 before Draoui drew them level with a skillfully struck low effort into the right corner that fooled Sy.
Guendouz psyched himself up in the box as Moussa Kante approached the penalty spot, but despite Guendouz’s effort going in the proper direction, Kante’s potent shot was too high for him to stop. Senegal now leads 3-2.
With a strong shot, Soufiane Bayazid tied the game for Algeria at 3-3, and his impassioned celebration was sufficient to convey the significance of the feat to him and his apprehensive teammates in the field’s middle.
As Sy took Guendouz’s place and went the wrong way, Cheikhou Omar Ndiaye hit the crossbar, sending Guendouz into a frenzy.
Youcef Laouafi then sent a shot into the right corner to give Algeria a 4-3 lead.
Lamine Camara, the face of Senegal, was cool under pressure as his strike from the left corner forced Guendouz to make a mistake and tie the score at 4-4.
Mahious, who had been responsible for five of Algeria’s nine goals during the competition, went up and attempted the Panenka, but Sy easily intercepted his attempt through the centre.
The Teranga Lions held their breath as Ousmane Diouf scored a sneaky goal for Senegal to make the score 5-4 with a shot past Guendouz, who had dove in the right way. Algeria was now under pressure.
Ahmed Kendouci was clearly affected by it, and after he missed his opportunity to tie the game, the home team shed tears as Senegal ran onto the field to celebrate their first-ever CHAN championship.
Algeria, meanwhile, established a new tournament record by going six games in a row without conceding.
The first game to go into overtime was the championship.