Sadio Mane’s Senegal and an Algeria side captained by Riyad Mahrez will attempt to secure their place in Africa Cup of Nations history in Friday’s final in Cairo.
Senegal, the 2002 runners-up, are desperate to end a long wait for a first continental title, while Algeria are looking to add to the trophy they lifted as hosts 29 years ago.
For Senegal, Africa’s top-ranked side, the ride to the final has encountered its share of bumps in the road but there is little doubt the showpiece at the 75,000 capacity Cairo International Stadium will feature the tournament’s two standout teams.
A Youcef Belaili goal gave Algeria a 1-0 win when the countries met in the group stage, but this time, there is no second chance with Cup of Nations immortality awaiting the victor.
“If you get to the final, the aim is obviously to win it. The game in the group stage wasn’t decisive but now it is and that’s the difference,” said Algeria boss Djamel Belmadi.
Senegal’s coach, Aliou Cisse is on a mission for personal redemption as the skipper of the side beaten on penalties in the 2002 final, when his missed kick handed the title to Cameroon.
“Having lost that final, I still have it on my mind,” said Cisse. “What motivated me to become a coach was to be able to take Senegal to the final. My players told me they would do better than my generation.”
“Algeria are a great team and we respect them,” he added. “We’re in the final now and determined to win.”
Liverpool star Mane is hoping to fulfil his “wildest dream” as one of just a handful of Africans to win both the UEFA Champions League and Cup of Nations.
“I’m ready to even swap a Champions League for a Cup of Nations. Going to Dakar with the trophy would be extraordinary. It would be my wildest dream,” Mane told France Football ahead of the competition.
Standing in the way, however, is an Algerian outfit that has undergone a remarkable transformation since the arrival of the straight-talking Belmadi as coach a year ago.
Senegal missing banned Koulibaly –
The Desert Foxes crashed out of the 2017 edition in the first round and flopped badly in World Cup qualifying, but former Qatar boss Belmadi has healed divisions in the squad to lead his nation to the brink of a first continental crown on foreign land.
“To the Algerian people, I want to say I’m not a politician, not a miracle worker or a wizard, but that we will fight like we have fought to this point,” Belmadi said after the 2-1 semi-final win over Nigeria.
Algeria owed that victory to a stunning last-gasp free-kick from Mahrez, who is craving further honours here after a domestic treble with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
“We are very happy to be in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations because it is something very special,” said Mahrez.
“It was our goal to do it for the people and for our families. We know they are behind us all the way. It’s my dream to win the Cup of Nations.”
It will be the first final to feature two local coaches since 1998, when Mahmoud El Gohary’s Egypt defeated Jomo Sono and South Africa 2-0 in Ouagadougou.
Senegal had already lost first-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy to a broken finger and must now do without defensive rock Kalidou Koulibaly, who is suspended after two yellow cards in the knockout phase.
The occasion will also mark the climax, not only of Algeria’s campaign on the field, but of their fans’ recent political campaign in the stands.
In April, long-standing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned after weekly Friday protests against his expected candidacy for elections, and football fans have been heavily involved in demonstrations.
Algeria will have the backing of an additional 4,800 supporters for the final. Some of them will arrive in Cairo on military planes organised by Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui, who has also been a target of the demonstrations.
FIFA bans ex-Nigeria football coach for match fixing
Siasia was also handed a fine of 50,000 US dollars
FIFA on Friday banned former Nigeria Football Federation official Samson Siasia for life after the body’s ethics panel found him guilty of taking bribes in connection with match fixing.
In a statement, the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s independent ethics committee said the probe targeting Siasia stemmed from a wider investigation involving Wilson Raj Perumal, who has confessed to international match-fixing.
The probe that began in February found Siasia “guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics,” the statement said.
In addition to being banned from all football related activity for life, Siasia was also handed a fine of 50,000 Swiss francs ($50,000, 46,000 euros).
Siasia, a former striker, also briefly coached Nigeria’s men’s national football team.
FIFA did not detail the nature of ties to Perumal, a Singaporean national who was arrested and jailed in Finland in 2011 for fixing top-tier football games there.
Perumal later collaborated with match fixing investigators.
Sebastien Migne resigns as coach of Kenya’s national football team
Frenchman Migne took charge of the team in May 2018 and took Kenya to their first AFCON finals appearance in 15 years
Kenya’s football federation said on Monday coach Sebastien Migne was leaving by “mutual consent” eight days after his team were eliminated from qualifying for the 2020 African Nations Championship.
Kenya were knocked out of the tournament, for teams made up only of African-based players, on penalties on August 4 after both legs of their first-round tie with neighbours and arch-rivals Tanzania ended goalless.
Frenchman Migne took charge of the Harambee Stars in May 2018 and steered the side to a first African Cup of Nations finals appearance in 15 years.
Hampered by injuries to key players, Kenya were eliminated at the group stage despite beating Tanzania, 3-2.
“Football Kenya Federation and Harambee Stars head coach Sebastian Migne have agreed to terminate the coach’s contract on mutual consent” said Barry Otieno, the federation’s acting general secretary.
“Consequently, FKF and Migne have agreed on a settlement for the coach, over a period of time.”
Otieno said the re-organisation and appointment for a new coaching team was already underway.
Kenya play Egypt in the preliminary round of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cairo in November.
South Africa appoints Enoch Nkwe as Proteas’ interim coach
Enoch Nkwe had a moderate first-class playing record, scoring three centuries and averaging 28.06 with the bat in 42 matches
Enoch Nkwe was named Friday as the Proteas’ interim team director for a tour of India next month.
“It is a tremendous honour and privilege to lead the Proteas as the interim team director,” the 36-year-old former all-rounder told the Cricket South Africa (CSA).
“It is a special moment for me and my family and I will do my best to make a difference in this interim period.”
Nkwe collected two trophies in his first season in charge of the Gauteng Lions franchise, as well as coaching the Jozi Stars T20 team which won the inaugural Mzansi Super League.
He was named coach of the year at last weekend’s annual awards function.
He takes over from Ottis Gibson, whose contract as head coach was not renewed after South Africa’s poor World Cup campaign earlier this year.
CSA announced last Sunday that the position of team director, with responsibilities for all aspects of the national team, would replace that of a head coach. The team director will report to a director of cricket.
It is hoped that permanent appointments in both positions will be made before England tour South Africa at the end of the year.
Acting director of cricket Corrie van Zyl said Nkwe’s appointment was “a result of his merits and balanced approach”.
“He is someone who complements the direction that will be taken by the team going forward,” said Van Zyl.
Nkwe had a moderate first-class playing record, scoring three centuries and averaging 28.06 with the bat in 42 matches.
He also took 29 wickets before a wrist injury ended his playing career.
He has coached the Gauteng provincial team and been an assistant coach to the Dutch national team and the South African women’s team.
The tour includes South Africa’s first three Test matches in the newly-created Test championship when the team will be captained by Faf du Plessis who was named SA Cricketer of the Year last weekend.
The Tests will be preceded by three Twenty20 internationals for which no captain has yet been named.
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