Carthage Eagles Stand between Senegal’s Lions and AFCON Final

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Senegal star Sadio Mane (in green) has scored three goals so far at the 2019 AFCON

Africa’s number one ranked team and 2002 AFCON runners-up, Senegal, are looking to justify their pre-tournament favourites tag by getting past Tunisia today and move one step closer to lifting a maiden Nations Cup trophy.

Senegal have not reached the final since 2002 when they later went to announce themselves on the world stage with big names like El Hadj Diouf, Salif Diao, Henri Camara and more at the Korea Japan World Cup.

However that golden generation never won the Nations Cup, a quest Sadio Mane and co are eager to rectify.

Aliou Cisse who was captain of the 2002 team is now manger of a Senegal team that impressed at the 2018 World Cup but crashed out at the group stage due to an inferior disciplinary record to Japan.

Senegal have been impressive in the tournament so far, winning four of their five matches and conceding just a single goal to Algeria, and are considered favourites against the Carthage Eagles.

Tunisia had drawn all four of their games in 90 minutes before knocking out minnows Madagascar in the quarter-finals to book their place in the last four for the first time since 2004.

In recent years there has been little to chose between these two sides with the last six encounters bringing two wins for Tunisia, one victory for Senegal, and three draws.

It was the Senegalese who won the most recent encounter, a 2-0 group stage win in the 2017 edition of the tournament.

Tunisia striker Wahbi Khazri recovered from a thigh problem to start the quarter-final win against Madagascar and should once more start. Liverpool forward Sadio Mane has been Senegal’s most dangerous player and will lead their attack once more today.

The last eight saw Senegal overcome a stubborn Benin side 1-0, and the semi-final could play out in similar fashion for Cisse’s men. Indeed, the Lions of Teranga have been faced with defensive opponents throughout the tournament who have invited them to break them down, and Senegal have more often than not eventually found a way through.

Five of the seven goals they have scored in the tournament have come in the second half, with three of their five matches being goalless at the break.