Senegal’s hopes of winning the African Cup of Nations will have to wait until subsequent occasions after they lost 0 – 1 to a determined Algerian side on Friday night.
Carrying the hopes of over 15.9 million people on his shoulders, UEFA Champions League winner, Sadio Mane, and his teammates could not do anything to cancel out the goal by Baghdad Bounedjah scored two minutes into the game.
Baghdad Bounedjah strike was deflected off the foot of Senegalese defender, Salif Sane; and looped into the net, giving the keeper, Alfred Gomis no chance.
It will be a night to forget for Salif Sane, who only made the team due to the suspension of Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly – who is regarded as one of the best defenders in the world currently.
Interestingly, before the clash tonight, Algeria had already beaten Senegal during the group stage of the competition, and victory never looked in doubt from the moment they went ahead, with Sadio Mane and his teammates unable to ever test Rais M'Bolhi throughout.
Algeria won the competition unbeaten.
Although they saw less of the ball throughout the 90 minutes, Riyad Mahrez’s led Algerian team always looked more dangerous with their direct counter-attacks whenever they had the ball in their feet.
There appeared to be a moment of in the second half when the Lions of Teranga thought they had been awarded a chance to equalize through a penalty awarded by the referee for a handball against Adlene Guedioura.
However, after checking with VAR, Neant Alioum reversed his decision.
Liverpool ace Mane became more influential, but no chances came his way, with Senegal's best opportunity falling to Ismaila Sarr, only for the Rennes winger to fire a volley well over the crossbar from 15 yards.
Additionally, in center-back pairing Djamel Benlamri and Aissa Mandi, they had two towers of strength at the heart of the defense, both willing to put their bodies on the line; indeed, after a clash with Mane, Benlamri spilled blood for the cause.
With 30 seconds of stoppage time remaining, Senegal's Sane stood up to take a free-kick, but his effort went straight into the wall and Algeria's celebrations were able to begin.
This is the first time Algeria will be winning the trophy in 29 years, but it is their second so far.
As for Senegal, they would have to wait for a first-ever AFCON title.
Header Image Credit: REUTERS