Liverpool winger Sadio Mane has revealed that winning the Africa Cup of Nations trophy with his homeland is the most meaningful day in his life and the best trophy he has won throughout his playing career. Senegal beat Egypt in the finals on Sunday, via penalties, to win their first AFCON trophy.
Senegal encountered Egypt in the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations in a thrilling contest held at the Paul Biya Stadium in Cameroon. Drama ensued in the opening minutes itself as Egyptian centre-back Mohamed Abdelmonem conceded a penalty just four minutes into the contest. Liverpool star Sadio Mane stepped up in an effort to give his side the lead but goalkeeper Mohamed Abougabal had other plans as he saved Mane's effort from the spot to ensure that the match remained level.
Both teams went on to play over 120 minutes of a goalless contest and the game was to be decided on penalties. Edouard Mendy made a save on Egypt's fourth attempt to hand Senegal the advantage and Mane then atoned for his earlier miss by converting the winning spot-kick. The win marked Senegal's first time they were crowned AFCON champions.
The Liverpool star expressed his delight at securing the trophy and credited his side's mentality as the reason for their victory.
"It's the best day of my life and the best trophy of my life. 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. When I missed the first penalty, it was a big blow for me," Mane told BBC Sport.
"But my team-mates came to me and said 'Sadio, we lose together and we win together. 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,” he added.