BY Afeseh Apong
The Teranga lions of Senegal have qualified for the final of the 33rd edition of the Africa Nations Cup, following their three one win over the Stallions of Burkina Faso in the first semi final game.
Paris Saint Germain’s duo Abdou Diallo, Idrissa Gana Gueye, and Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, were on target for Senegal.
Both Senegal and Burkina Faso came into the game with an objective to book a place for the final, which will give them a chance to try and challenge for their countries first AFCON trophy.
The Stallions welcomed back captain Bertrand Traoré into the starting XI after he was benched in their quarter final game against Tunisia. For Senegal, Cheikhou Kouyaté was back in Aliou Cissé’s starting XI, after he came off the bench to inspire their quarter final win over Equatorial Guinea last week.
A quiet first quarter of the game saw Saliou Ciss making a good individual run up front , but shot accross the face of Herve Koffi’s goal.
Bertrand Traoré and Gustavo Fabrice Sangaré combined beautifully for Burkina Faso at the 18 minute, but failed to really trouble Edward Mendy.
Sadio Mane then gave Hervé Koffi his first really test of the game, with a shot from outside of the box, which was well dealt with by the Burkinabè keeper.
Burkina Faso’s Adama Guira was the first player to see yellow, following his challenge on Cheikh Dieng.
At the 29 minute, Senegal was awarded a penalty, after goalkeeper Hervé Koffi made a misjudged outing and collided with Cheikhou Kouyaté. Both Kouyaté and Koffi received medical assistance on the pitch, but Ethiopian referee Bamlak Tessema would later cancel the penalty, after consulting the Video Assistant Referee.
Unfortunately for goalkeeper Hervé Koffi, he could not continue the game, and was replaced by Soufiane Ouedraogo.
Senegal kept pressing in the six first half added minutes, and appeared to have gotten another penalty, but it was again ruled out by the VAR.
A virgin tie at pause, was a perfect reflection of the physiognomy of the game, therefore setting up a decisive second half.
A DECISIVE SECOND HALF
Burkina Faso made one more substitution upon resumption for the second half, with Zakaria Sanogo replacing Cyrille Bayala. Senegal followed with Cheikhou Kouyaté and Famara Diedhiou ceding their places to Pape Gueye and Ismaila Saar respectively.
Burkina Faso failed to deal with Senegal’s corner kick at the 70th minute, and Paris Saint Germain’s defender Abdou Diallo, charged forward and slotted from a goal mouth tussle to put the Teranga lions in front.
Six minutes later, midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye, was at the finishing end, to turn in Sadio Mane’s pass and extends Senegal’s lead.
Ibrahim Blati Touré pulled one back for the Stallions with seven minutes to go, as he used his knee to turn in Issa Kabore’s cross.
As Burkina Faso attempted a comeback, Senegal benefited from a Burkinabè error around the midfield, and Sadio Mane sprinted solo, to bury the ball pass goalkeeper Soufiane Ouedraogo.
Senegal has now reached the final for the second consecutive time, after doing same in 2019. It is the third AFCON final in the history of Senegalese football, after they lost the 2002 and 2019 editions.
Aliou Cissé will be hoping for third time lock, when his team plays the winner of the Cameroon versus Egypt game, at the Olembe Stadium on Sunday February 06.
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