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African Nations Championship Review – Final, 3rd Place, And Standout Players

Senegal African Nations Championship

Senegal's players celebrate with the trophy on the podium after winning the 2022 African Nations Championship final football match between Algeria and Senegal at the Nelson Mandela stadium in Algiers on February 4, 2023. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by -/AFP via Getty Images)

By Deolu Akingbade.

It was the beginning of an era, the dawn of a new morning. With a late win, Senegal claimed the Africa Cup of Nations, the Beach Soccer Cup of Nations, and now the African Nations Championship in a twelve-month span.

Their newfound success borders on a Senegalese renaissance in sports. But that’s another story.

February 4th’s surprise outcome that saw Algeria fall 5-4 in penalties ended a stellar African Nations Championship.

For everything CHAN-related, check out Frantic Football Podcast’s episode 10, where Neel Shelat and I cover the tournament from start to finish (and the future that lies ahead).

Algeria 0 (4), Senegal 0 (5)

Algeria found itself stunned in front of a shocked Stade Nelson Mandela stadium that expected a Fennec Foxes win, having dominated the rest of the field and winning all of its games going into the final.

Their talent was unparalleled, boasting players like Aimen Mahious, Houssem Eddine Mrezigue, and more. But when Algeria finally got into the game, they found themselves deadlocked with a stunning Senegalese team no one really expected to go so far.

The first 120 minutes were barren, as no one could break through and put the ball over the line. For most of the match, it was fairly even with both seeing a lot of chances.

Algeria found itself attacking through the middle and forcing its way through the compact defense, but Senegal used its agile wingers and pacy attacker to get crosses in the middle.

Despite the two’s contrasting approaches to the final, each had the same outcome; goalless. It helped that no one could quite put their shots on target; between the two, there were only four shots on target.

The penalty shootout started out as even as the regular game itself. The first three takers all made their penalties (although Draoui missed the second penalty, but retook it because Sy was off the line).

After Cheikhou Ndiaye missed his penalty, Youcef Amine Laoufi sent Sy the wrong way to give Algeria a decisive lead.

With young phenom Lamine Camara set to take his penalty, Algeria knew that either a Guendouz save or a Mahious goal would secure them the title.

Up stepped the now-Metz star Camara, who casually hit his shot to the top right corner. But, there was still hope.

As Mahious stepped up, all 40,000-some fans inside the stadium had the expectation Mahious would score. But no.

His disastrous Jorginho-like hop attempt rolled securely into the arms of Sy. One Ahmed Kendouci miss and an Ousmane Diouf score later, and the title that many expected to have Algeria’s name on it was now Senegal’s to lift.

Niger 0, Madagascar 1

The less glamorous bronze-medal match had every bit of suspense if you looked at both matches without context.

Although key players like Tantely Randrianiaina, Solomampionona Razafindranaivo, and Ismael Souley all started the match on the bench, the game had a lot of quality.

Madagascar dominated possession (59%), but it was a very even game. The best chance of the first half came when Jean Razafindrakoto dropped deep to take a big shot, but Niger’s Mahamadou Djibo got his fingertips on it.

The ball bobbled to Olivier Tokinantenaina in the heart of the box, who had an open net and was completely unmarked. Yet, his shot flew over the bar to keep the score level.

From there, the game was all Madagascar. Quick counter-attacks led by Tokinantenaina and Marcio Ravelomanantsoa helped power Madagascar into some great positions, but none of their attackers could finish off their chances as they did against Mozambique, Sudan, and Ghana.
Rado Andrininosy picked off an errant Nigerien pass to ignite yet another powerful counter-attack. Tendry Randrianarijaona received the ball and fired off a big shot. Djibo could not contain the ball, letting Razafindrakoto pick up the ball and knock the ball into the back of the net.
That was how the game ended, as Niger could not claw their way back to force extra time, meaning Madagascar had its first CHAN bronze medal ever.

Scouting Notes

Best Players:

Algeria: Houssem Eddine Mrezigue
Senegal: Lamine Camara

Key Players of the Final:

Aimen Mahious: Mahious was disappointing in the final. When Algeria desperately needed a goal, Mahious could not get his shots to land (0 shots on goal, 4 shots total).

The USM Alger attacker was solid elsewhere, having won 15 of 28 total duels. He was also involved on offense, with 42 touches and 14 accurate passes.

But Mahious needed to be accurate when it counted and bury the chances Algeria gave him. Although you could forgive his ineffectiveness in the 120 minutes, he was pretty unlucky to not find the net; his penalty miss that could have won the title for Algeria was not.

Pape Sy: Sy delivered arguably the best goalkeeping performance of this tournament. Sy came up with three big saves to keep Senegal’s clean sheet, and was physically dominant inside of his box.

The Generation Foot stopper also stopped two big penalty shootout saves in quick succession to earn the Best Goalkeeper Award and the CHAN title.

Meziane Bentahar: It was tough choosing between Guendouz, Mrezigue, Kendouci, Draoui for Algeria’s second Key Player, but Bentahar stuck out to me as a dangerous player that can burn other defenses. But against Senegal, he was tame and bland.

Bentahar was not the primary source of offense, but he still could have at least provided some sparks when he had the ball. Instead, the USM Alger winger totalled just one shot (which was off target), 75% passing accuracy, one duel won of six, and 48 touches.

Lamine Camara: Camara was a one-man machine for Senegal, and his performance had shades of Luka Modric controlling the Madrid midfielder.

He completed 87% of his passes, won six of eight duels, and drew three fouls. The Generation Foot midfielder also clinically finished his penalty shootout try to avoid a shootout loss, helping Senegal ultimately win the competition.

His presence was vital for a Senegal side largely lacking clinicality and inspiration.

What Happened After

The Senegal pair of Camara, Pape Diallo, and Malick Mbaye made their move from Generation Foot to Metz’s B team. Players who also made moves to play abroad include …

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