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Senegal celebrate their victory against Burkina Faso in the Africa Cup of Nations semifinal
Senegal celebrate their victory against Burkina FasoImage: MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY/REUTERS

AFCON: Mane powers Senegal through to the final

February 2, 2022

The Liverpool striker scored the final goal and provided an assist for the Teranga Lions against Burkina Faso. The Stallions' last-minute surge was not enough to see them through to the cup final.


Burkina Faso 1-3 Senegal
Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde

(Abdou Diallo 70', Idrissa Gueye 76', Blati Toure 82', Sadio Mane 87')

Sadio Mane handed Senegal the victory in Wednesday's 3-1 win against Burkina Faso to reach the final of the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Liverpool star set up an assist for Idrissa Gana Gueye before scoring the third goal after the Stallions had got one back through Blati Toure. Defender Abdou Diallo opened the scoring for Senegal.

The Teranga Lions have now reached their second straight final. After losing 1-0 to Algeria in 2019, they will hope to go one better this year by clinching the title in Sunday's final against either hosts Cameroon or Egypt.

Senegal are the only team in the competition's history to have played two final matches without a win. They first reached the final in 2002 where they lost via penalties to Cameroon. This current squad is coached by Aliou Cisse, a member of that unlucky side that lost two decades ago.

Cisse also led them to the final three years ago and will hope that this year proves more rewarding for his team.

Sadio Mane's impact

The Liverpool star has shown just how important he is to the Senegal national team. After scoring their only goal in the group stages, he suffered a nasty head clash with the Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha in their round of 16 game, before going on to score the winner.

 Burkina Faso's defender Issa Kabore (L) challenges Senegal's forward Sadio Mane during the Africa Cup of Nations semifinal
Sadi Mane has been a force for SenegalImage: CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images

Senegal did not rest him for their quarter final game where they beat Equatorial Guinea 3-1. During the match, Senegal also conceded their first goal of the competition, with Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy finally beaten.

And in the semifinal, Mane came through once again, leading up front and providing an outlet for his side. He provided the go-ahead assist and then scored the winning goal at a moment when it seemed that Burkina Faso were finding a new wind — spurred on by their first goal of the game.

"We knew that the match would not be easy, it is tough facing a team like Burkina Faso in the semifinal of the Africa Cup of Nations," Mane said after receiving his man-of-the-match prize. "But we took our chances and were rewarded, and I think we deserved the victory. I hope we win the final. We want to win it."

'Disappointing result' for Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso captain Bertrand Traore cut a sad figure after the game. Shoulders flattened by the burden of unreachable expectations; the Aston Villa striker gave his best for the team. He pushed them to score their lone goal after his run freed up Issa Kabore to pull in the cross that Blati Toure converted off his knee.

Burkina Faso's forward Bertrand Traore (L) is challenged by Senegal's midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye
Burkina Faso's forward Bertrand Traore (L), said he was disappointed with the result, but that the team hopes to win the third-place gameImage: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images

After the political upheaval back home that saw the overthrow of President Roch Marc Christian Kabore and the suspension of the country from the ECOWAS during this tournament, the Stallions were hoping to bring some cheer back to their country. Alas, it was not to be.

"All the country was hoping that we would get to the final. We are sad for ourselves and our families and our country," Traore said.

"It was a difficult match, it was very complicated for us. I think there are a lot of positives we can take away from the game. We still have an opportunity to win the third-place game," he said.

"It was a disappointing result for us, we wanted to get through to the final. At this stage of the competition if you make mistakes, you will get punished. We are down but there's a chance to get third place. We will speak to ourselves and keep our heads up," Traore added.

Edited by: Rebecca Staudenmaier