Salah, Mane Seek First-Ever AFCON Title

Salah, Mane Seek First-Ever AFCON Title

The 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations comes to an end today as Senegal and Egypt go head to head for the ultimate prize at Olembe’s Paul Biya Stadium.

Two players who have been instrumental in their countries match to the final are Liverpool stars Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

Both players will be hoping to include a first-ever AFCON title among the laurels they have secured with Liverpool.

This is not the first time they will be featuring in the final of the continental showpiece. Salah was part of the Pharaohs squad that lost 2-1 to Cameroon in 2017.

While for Mane, he featured as Senegal fell to a 1-0 defeat to Algeria at the 2019 tournament.

A win for Mane and Senegal will secure a first-ever AFCON title and for Salah and Egypt, it will be a record-extending eight title.

And looking forward to the big clash, Aliou Cisse has made just a few changes to his preferred lineup during the course of the tournament and is expected to name a familiar starting eleven.
In attack, Mane leads his side in goals and assists at the tournament with three and two respectively and should spearhead the attack once more alongside Diedhiou and Villarreal forward Boulaye Dia.

Watford forward Ismaila Sarr, who boasts one goal and one assist in just 57 minutes of action at the tournament, is yet to start a game so far but could serve as another excellent attacking option on the bench.

At the centre of the park, the trio of Ferland Mendy, Idrissa Gueye and Crystal Palace’s Cheikh Kouyate have been rock solid and should be tasked with winning the midfield battle on Sunday.

Further behind, Senegal have been simply outstanding, keeping four clean sheets and conceding just twice in six games and we expect to see an unchanged back four of Bouna Sarr, Kalidou Koulibaly, Diallo and Saliou Ciss, who have started each of the three games in the knockout stages, shielding the reliable Edouard Mendy in goal.

Meanwhile, Egypt remain without the services of Al Ahly midfielder Akram Tawfik, whose tournament came to an abrupt end when he sustained a severe injury just 11 minutes into the opening game against Nigeria.

Former West Bromwich Albion man Ahmed Hegazi is also major doubt for the Pharaohs after missing the game against Cameroon last time out through an injury he picked up against Morocco last Sunday.

Zamalek defender Mahmoud Hamdi, who took Hegazi’s place against Morocco, proved to be an excellent replacement, and the 26-year-old could be handed his fourth starting appearance at the tournament.

Like his Liverpool counterpart Mane, Salah leads Egypt in goal involvements so far, scoring three goals and registering one assist and the 29-year-old will certainly cause the Senegalese a worry or two.

After coming off injured in the 96th minute in the game against Morocco, Gabasky shook off his injury as he turned in a performance of the highest quality against the Indomitable Lions last time out and the veteran goalkeeper should start between the sticks once more.

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