Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher believes Egypt were wrong not to assign Mohamed Salah among the first penalty takers against Senegal in their 4-2 penalty shootout final defeat at the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
The 29-year-old forward was not able to take his penalty after Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy had denied Mohanad Lasheen, leaving the stage for his Liverpool compatriot Sadio Mane to convert the decisive penalty and hand the Lions of Teranga their first-ever Afcon title.
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After the game ended 0-0 in regular and extra time, it was the Pharaohs who missed the first penalty when centre-back Mohamed Abdelmonem saw his effort hit the left-hand upright - but their outstanding Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal immediately denied Bouna Sarr.
Lasheen then saw his effort saved by Mendy, who was named the goalkeeper of the tournament, and Mane, who had missed an earlier penalty from open play, then won it with an emphatic finish into the bottom left-hand corner.
Salah had been preserved to take the last penalty for the Pharaohs but according to the 44-year-old Carragher, who managed 508 appearances for the Reds, “your best penalty taker should never go fifth.”
“That is why your best penalty taker should never go fifth,” Carragher wrote on his social media pages. “Salah not taking a penalty for Egypt in a shootout in a final is madness.”
Carragher also compared the scene at Olembe Stadium in Yaounde to the 2012 European Championships when Cristiano Ronaldo was earmarked to take the fifth penalty for Portugal during their 3-2 defeat against Spain.
However, the Manchester United player could not take the penalty as Bruno Alves saw his effort rattle the woodwork and Cesc Fabregas then stepped up to score and send Spain to the final at the expense of Ronaldo’s Portugal.
“Also happened to Ronaldo years ago for Portugal versus Spain,” Carragher continued.
Mane’s penalty kick ensured Senegal finally laid their hands on the Afcon title after making 16 appearances in the competition.
Senegal had reached two finals – in 2002 when they lost 3-2 on penalties against Cameroon and in 2019 when they suffered a 1-0 defeat against Algeria.