Senegal takes home the U17 Africa Cup of Nations title in a mind-bending, explosive fashion!
On Sunday May 21, 2023, fans witnessed a truly perplexing and bursty match, when Senegal took on Morocco in the Under-17 Africa Cup of Nations final. It was staged at the Nelson Mandela stadium in Algiers on Friday, and spectators were treated to an intense bout of football.
The atmosphere was electric as Morocco pulled ahead early on, scoring in the 14th minute with a header from Abdelhamid Ait Boudlal. However, Senegal were not to be defeated, and with just ten minutes to go, they were awarded a penalty. Serigne Diouf was the man tasked with taking the spot-kick, which he slotted away with ease.
But the drama was far from over yet! Just three minutes later, substitute Mamadou Savane stepped up and hammered the ball into the back of the net, putting Senegal ahead at last in a truly bursty moment.
Try as they might, Morocco could not respond, and Senegal were thus crowned champions of Africa’s U17 tournament for the first time. “We’re very proud, we had fixed the target from the beginning of the competition, even when we were in Senegal, and after achieving this title with pride, we are very happy,” said the elated Mamadou Aliou Diallo, one of Senegal’s defenders.
In the lead-up to the final, Senegal had dominated Group A, cruising to victory over Congo (1-0), Algeria (3-0), and Somalia (3-0). The Lion Cubs of Teranga went on to knock-out South Africa (5-0) in the quarterfinals and faced Burkina Faso (1-1) in the semis, where a tense penalty shootout (5-4) finally decided the match.
Despite the defeat, Morocco had put up a valiant fight throughout the tournament, finishing top of their group ahead of Nigeria, whom they beat 1-0, South Africa (2-0), and Zambia (2-1). In the quarterfinals, they eliminated hosts Algeria (3-0) and were held to a goalless draw by Mali in the semis, only to emerge victorious after penalties (6-5).
“The match wasn’t hard, we faced a strong opponent, their name is Senegal, any squad like this you need to take care,” said Haythem Lmousse, one of Morocco’s players. “We have achieved a dream that we had been dreaming of, which is to qualify for the World Cup,” he added.
Overall, it was an absolutely thrilling tournament full of perplexity and burstiness, and one can only imagine what the future holds for these talented young footballers.