Sadio Mane has expressed his delight at winning the Africa Cup of Nations, saying: “It’s the best day of my life and the best trophy of my life.”
Senegal made history by winning AFCON for the first time on Sunday evening, having been beaten in two previous finals in 2002 and 2019. Mane featured in the latter defeat, when the Lions of Teranga lost 1-0 to Algeria in Cairo.
They had more luck this time round, beating Egypt on penalties at the Olembe Stadium. After having a spot kick saved by Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal early on before going on to score the winning penalty in a climactic shoot-out, Mane admitted that he was overwhelmed by a mixture of relief and delight after the match.
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“It’s the best day of my life and the best trophy of my life,” he said. “I won the Champions League and some [other] trophies but this is the special one for me.
“This is more important for me. I am happy for myself, my people and all of my family.”
Asked how he felt after failing to convert from the spot when Saliou Ciss was brought down by Mohamed Abdelmonem in the box with only four minutes on the clock, Mane said: “When I missed the first penalty, it was a big blow for me.
“But my teammates came to me and said: ‘Sadio, we lose together and we win together. We know you. You have done too much for us, keep on going.’
“That made me stronger and I think it made the difference when I got the second one.
“All the boys came to me and said ‘Sadio, we trust you’ and that gave me more motivation. The trophy belongs to the whole Senegal team, everyone deserves it.”
Mane was named player of the tournament following Senegal’s triumph, having scored three goals on the way to the final. On Monday morning, he posted a photo of himself on Instagram in bed with the trophy and his winners’ medal round his neck.
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With Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah on the losing side in Olembe, Mane also revealed what he’d said to his fellow forward at the end of the match.
“I told him that he remains a very great player and it’s a pleasure to play for the same club,’ he told beIN SPORTS.
“I have so much respect for him and he gave everything for his country. Unfortunately he didn’t win, but that doesn’t mean it’s over for him.
“I also told him that he still has many things to win, including the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. They have a young team so maybe they will win it one day.”
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