Mahrez, Mane showdown brings AFCON curtain down

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Sports Reporter

It’s a Battle of Armageddon.

 Celebrated stars Riyad Mahrez and Sadio Mane renew their English Premiership rivalry yet again as they meet in the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)final at the Cairo International Stadium tonight.

Kick-off is 9pm.

The dream AFCON final pitting Mane’s Senegal and Mahrez’s Algeria appears to be just what the doctor has ordered.

The two players, Mane having won the UEFA Champions League with Liverpool, and Mahrez having won the EPL title with Manchester City, are certainly desperate to lay their hands on the continental crown.

The two met in the group stages and Algeria triumphed 1-0 in a game Mane was clearly overshadowed.

But this is the ultimate. A grand finale. Senegal are chasing their first ever continental honours, having come closest in 2002 but beaten in the final by Cameroon after a penalty shoot-out in Mali.

Algeria, on the other hand, are looking to wrap their second. Their only triumph came in 1990 when they hosted this biannual fiesta.

Interestingly, Algeria eliminated Senegal in the semi-finals in 1990 on their way to glory. Djamel Aman and Djamel Menad, who won the player of the tournament accolade, scored as Algeria finished that tie 2-1 to the good.

That those scorers then share the first name with current Algerian coach Djamel Belmadi brings an interesting perspective to this final.

Senegal’s Napoli reliable defender Kalidou Koulibaly is suspended from this tie, but all the attention will undoubtedly be on Mane and Mahrez.

The pair are both on three goals and will be looking to outscore Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo who was leading the scoring charts with four goals before his team met Tunisia in the third-place play off.

Mahrez knows the match against Senegal won’t be an easy ride but remains confident his team will win the cup.

The former Leicester City midfielder, whose last-gasp bullet free kick against Nigeria in the semi-final ensured the Desert Foxes’ passage, is upbeat about his team’s chances.

“We are very happy because to be in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations is something unbelievable.

“I think we have been very good in this tournament. We scored 12 goals and conceded two, that is a source of our confidence.

“We are looking forward to the final against Senegal. We played them in the group stage and we are expecting another tough game,” he told the media after the team’s semi-final heroics.

 

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