Senegal’s Sadio Mane has been named 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Most Outstanding Player after guiding the Lions of Teranga to glory at Olembe Stadium in Yaounde.
Mane scored his team’s winning goal in the penalty shootout in Senegal’s triumph over Egypt, locking up the victory after a 0-0 draw through 120 minutes.
The Liverpool star was also impressive throughout the tournament, contributing three goals and two assists.
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Overall, he has been directly involved in nine (six goals, three assists) of Senegal’s last 14 goals at the biennial African football showpiece (64%), having either scored (2) or assisted (2) in each of his last three matches.
Mane and Senegal run to the title
Aliou Cisse’s men emerged from a group that included Guinea, Malawi and Zimbabwe by scoring one goal while conceding none, winning Group B with five points.
They overcame Cape Verde 2-0 with Mane and Bamba Dieng settling the encounter at the Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam.
Senegal silenced Equatorial Guinea 3-1 in the quarter-final, setting up a heavyweight clash with Burkina Faso in the semi-finals.
The West Africans saw off the Stallions 3-1 with Mane, Famara Diedhiou and Cheikhou Kouyate all finding the net to move onto the final, where they triumphed 4-2 in a thrilling shootout that saw Mohamed Abdelmonem and Mohanad Lasheen miss their kicks.
Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal – who saved two penalty kicks - was named the best player of the final.
Cameroon’s Vincent Aboubakar claimed the Golden Boot for the competition with his eight goals for the Indomitable Lions, who made it all the way to the semi-finals before being knocked out on penalties by the Pharaohs.
Karl Toko Ekambi was the man nearest Aboubakar at the top of the scoring charts having scored five goals.
Edouard Mendy was named as the tournament's top goalkeeper after keeping five clean sheets in Cameroon.
Prior to the final, captain Kalidou Koulibaly expressed Senegal’s desire to emerge as African champions after losing the final of the 2019 edition to Algeria.
“This is my first Africa Cup of Nations final; I couldn’t play the final in the previous edition. This frustrated me but I had confidence in my teammates in 2019,” the Napoli defender told the media.
“[On Sunday], I have the opportunity to make up for that final, and we must work as a team and players to achieve something for Senegal.
“Senegal’s victory is more important than who will play, so I do everything to put myself at the disposal of the team and the coach.
“It’s a dream for me and I can picture it in my head. It’s the dream of all Senegalese.”