Senegal overcame a goal deficit to win the U-17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Algiers with a goal by Mamadou Sawane.
At the Nelson Mandela Stadium, Senegal defeated Morocco 2-1 by scoring twice in the final four minutes, including the game-winning goal from Sawane.
Morocco took the lead in the 14th minute on a goal from captain Abdelhamid Ait Boudlal, which they held onto until Serigne Diouf’s VAR-awarded penalty in the 79th.
Four minutes later, Sawane towered the whole defense to head home, capping the Teranga Cubs’ arduous comeback.
Senegal has now won three continental championships in as many months.
At the same location where they triumphed on Friday, their squad of local players won the CHAN championship in February.
In March in Egypt, Senegal also won the U-20 AFCON championship.
When they won the AFCON 2021 championship in February of last year, their senior national team started to rule the continent.
Later in the year, they also captured the AFCON Beach Soccer championship.
Both teams were in uncharted ground as they competed in their first-ever finals going into Friday night’s match, but Morocco would take the lead first.
In order to score off an Abdel Hamid Maali corner, captain Ait Boudlal outran his defenders and outran the goalkeeper.
The Senegalese team’s captain Amara Diouf’s free kick that flew inches outside of the goal barely ten minutes earlier had given Said Chiba’s team pause.
As the game progressed, both teams fought for control, but there were less clear-cut opportunities to score.
Senegal got off to a quicker start in the second half, with Mamadou Sadio shooting narrowly over with only 45 seconds remaining in the period.
Maali’s attempt from the edge of the box gave Morocco an opportunity on the opposite end, but it missed the target.
Senegal’s comeback occurred in the 76th minute as Moroccan captain Ait Boudlal was found guilty of handling the ball inside the box.
The referee granted the penalty after looking at the pitch-side monitor, and Serigne buried it.
The Senegalese were motivated by the goal, and they put pressure on Morocco in the game’s last 10 minutes.
When replacement Sawane charged into the outside of the six-yard box to head in the winning goal just four minutes later, they received their reward.
Even senior national team coach Walid Regragui, who had flown in for the final, was appalled by the goal and stood inconsolably at his seat in the VIP box. The goal shattered the whole Moroccan team.
Senegal was able to finish the remaining minutes, including the extra six minutes, to capture the championship for the first time. (NAN)