Africa Cup of Nations, Senegal 0-1 Algeria: 5 Hits and Flops as the Desert Warriors clinch first title in 29 years
A goal from Baghdad Bounedjah as early as the second minute was enough to settle the tie and ensure that Senegal’s quest for a long elusive maiden Nations Cup trophy would go on for at least another two years.
On a moderately cool evening in the land of the Pyramids, fans inside the stadium were treated to a colorful closing ceremony headlined by Ghanaian ‘Azonto’ crooner Fuse ODG before kickoff for the biggest trophy on the African continent.
Given the immense nature of the match and stakes involved, it was expected that the players would rise to the occasion, giving their all in a bid to cement their legacy.
However, as it happened; while some were able to rise to the occasion, other massively flattered to deceive. In this piece, we shall be highlighting the hits and flops from the tightly contested fixture.
#5 Flop - Alfred Gomis (Senegal)
Fans had barely recovered from the thrilling closing ceremony and were hardly in their seats when the first goal of the night was scored.
Bounedjah embarked on a daring run, drifting in from the right wing when he unleashed a speculative shot from just outside the box.
Unfortunately (from a Senegalese perspective), his somewhat weak shot deflected wickedly off the heel of Salif Sane and nestled into the back of the net.
At first read, it would be easy to feel sympathy for the goalkeeper and imagine he was helpless, as most deflections are usually quickfire events which leave the goalies with less than a fraction of a second to react.
However, this was not one of those scenarios, as a number of factors including the distance, weakness of the shot and favorable heights of the deflection meant that Gomis had more than enough time to judge the situation and react accordingly.
Rather shockingly, the SPAL goalkeeper elected to stand rooted to the spot and watch the ball droop over his head into the back of the net, seemingly feeling that it was going over the top of the post.
The error in Gomis’ judgment was visible in that in the immediate aftermath of the goal; his teammate Badou Ndiaye charged at him and queried why he did not do better with that ball and the enormity of his error was highlighted by the fact that this was Algeria’s only shot on target for the entirety of the match.
Major finals are not something that come around every day and thus, optimum concentration is extensively required for 90 minutes and beyond.
However, Gomis erred in his judgment for just a split second and that proved to be the thin line between success and failure for his nation.