Senegal national team head coach Aliou Cisse claims that the Senegalese had to wait for 60 years in order to taste the sweetness of the Africa Cup of the nations title.
Cisse said this after Senegal edged Egypt to emerge as the 2021 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations champions.
Sadio Mane netted the winning spot-kick as Senegal beat Egypt 4-2 on penalties to clinch their first-ever Africa Cup of Nations, after the final ended goalless following extra time.
The Liverpool forward had earlier seen a seventh-minute penalty saved by Pharaohs keeper Gabaski.
Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy denied Mohanad Lasheen to give Mane the chance to win it in Yaounde’s Olembe Stadium.
Gabaski had made three good saves from Senegal’s Bamba Dieng in extra time.
And in a match billed as a battle between Liverpool forwards Mane, of Senegal, and Egypt captain Mohamed Salah, it was the former who had the decisive word.
After two previous final defeats, Senegal are Africa Cup of Nations winners at last, while Egypt missed out on a record-extending eighth continental crown that would also have been a first for Salah.
“It just shows that if you work hard, if you persevere, you will get what you want,” Aliou Cisse said.
“I am very emotional because the people of Senegal have wanted this trophy for 60 years,” he added.
All four of Egypt’s knockout games at the tournament went the distance, and the North Africans had beaten Ivory Coast and hosts Cameroon on spot-kicks en route to the final.
Gabaski had already saved four penalties at the tournament by the time the match went to a shootout, but on this occasion the 33-year-old ended on the losing side.
Egypt were the first to miss when centre-back Mohamed Abdelmonem saw his penalty hit the left-hand upright and bounce away – but Gabaski immediately denied Bouna Sarr.
However, Lasheen saw his effort saved and Mane won it with an emphatic finish into the bottom left-hand corner.
His Liverpool team-mate Salah did not even have the chance to take a penalty, with the Pharaohs captain set to go fifth for his side.
Senegal’s two Nations Cup final defeats came in 2002 and 2019.
And while the Teranga Lions will celebrate finally winning the tournament, Egypt will soon have a chance for revenge, with the two sides meeting again next month in a two-legged play-off for a spot at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.