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Cisse draws Senegal closer to history

(William D. Ezah, GNA Special Correspondent, Cairo, Egypt, courtesy Stanbic Bank Ghana Limited)

Cairo, Egypt, July 15, GNA – The Teranga Lions of Senegal made a giant step towards winning the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in their history, as they qualified for the finals for the second time since 2002 after disposing off the Carthage Eagles of Tunisian, by lone goal at the 30th June Stadium in Cairo on Sunday night.
A Dylan Bronn own goal inside 10 minutes of added time saw Senegal book their first Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final slot in 17 years, in fully contested tie, that was characterised by drama.
Both sides missed a penalty each late in the second half. Tunisia had the first in the 72nd minutes, which was missed by Ferjani Sassi, whilst Senegal’s Henri Saivet also missed a penalty in the 80th minute.
The drama did not end there as referee Bamlak Tessema gave Tunisia a penalty after a seemingly handball, but after consulting the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), overturned the decision.
Senegal, who are yet to win any Cup of Nations title despite playing the most number of matches at the flagship African tourney, can now dare dream as their tactician Aliou Cisse makes history playing in two finals as a player (2002) and now as a coach.
Cisse’s appearance in the finals was expected as he was among a generation of players of Senegal who were tagged the « Golden Generation » – himself, El Hadji Diouf, Kalilu Fadiga, Henri Camara, Papa Bouba Diop and the likes.
Now as the tactician of the team, Senegal could have beaten Tunisia by wider margin as they had the lion share of possession with the likes of Sadio Mane, Mbaye Niang, failing to find the net.
In the 72nd minute, Sassi’s shot came off Kalidou Koulibaly’s arms and the referee pointed to the spot. Sassi took responsibility and stepped forward from 12 yards but took a lame shot that was saved by Gomis.
Eight minutes on the other end it was Senegal’s turn when substitute Ismaila Sarr was brought down but Saivet’s effort was saved by a full stretched Mouez.
With no winner in regulation time, the match went to the full length and it was Senegal who would make the most of their luck after 100 minutes of football.
Skipper Cheikou Kouyate’s free-kick from the right bounced on Bronn’s head with keeper Mouez off his line.
Senegal managed the remaining minutes to keep their dream of a maiden title alive, even with some late nerves that were calmed by the VAR.