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Afcon: Gabaski's bottle and tribute to Rayan feature in reaction to Egypt loss

A Sadio Mane penalty broke Egyptian hearts during Sunday's shootout and sent Africa's top football honour to Senegal for the first time
Egyptian forward Marwan Hamdi (right) challenges Senegal's Pape Gueye for the ball (AFP)

The Africa Cup of Nations came to an end on Sunday with defeat for Egypt in a penalty shootout after a hard-fought match with Senegal.

Captained by Liverpool frontman Sadio Mane, Senegal beat the seven-time AFCON champions after finishing the 2019 tournament as runners-up.

Egypt beaten by Senegal in Afcon final as Mane steps out of Salah's shadow
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True to the adage that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend", celebrations erupted in some areas of the Middle East and North Africa among rival fans eager to see the Egyptians defeated.

Online, the event was marked with memes and videos marking a historic win for Senegal and making light of a bitter defeat for the Egyptians.

In one viral post, a map of Africa was shown divided between fans of Egypt and Senegal. Most of Sub-Saharan Africa was depicted as being with the Senegalese, while Arab League states were shown as being with Egypt, with the exception of Egypt's rivals Algeria and Sudan, which were shown as divided.

The meme caused discontent among some social media users, who expressed concern that the map was not backed by any data and that it seemed to divide the continent along racial lines.

Rayan and Gabaski

Another focus of online commentary was the display of a poster within the stadium in Olembe commemorating the death of five-year-old Rayan Oram from Morocco over the weekend.

Oram died on Saturday evening despite being recovered from a well where he had been trapped for five days.

In an ordeal that captivated the world, the boy's tragic fate attracted tributes from across the Arab world and further afield.

Rescue workers extracted Rayan through a three-metre tunnel dug into the side of the well in Chefchaouen province, in the northwest of the country, after he fell into it on Tuesday afternoon.

Gabaski's bottle

Online chatter also centred on Egyptian goalkeeper Mohamed Qotb Abou Gabal Ali, known popularly as Gabaski.

Described as a breakout star during the tournament, Gabaski became known for keeping a water bottle near him, which had rival players' preferred direction of shots listed on it.

The unusual technique brought success during the shootout with Cameroon in the semi-finals and helped him save one penalty against Senegal during the shootout, in addition to stopping a Sadio Mane kick during normal play.

He received the Man of the Match award shortly after the final whistle and was pictured posing with the award with tears in his eyes after losing the game. The image of him smiling while looking obviously anguished was quickly turned around into memes. 

Salah and Mane

Liverpool teammates Mane and Egypt's Mohamed Salah found themselves in the unusual position of playing against each other during a major final.

Preceding the game, there was a lot of speculation about how the two players would react to the other's disappointment.

The two shared a hug before the game and after scoring the winning penalty, Mane took a break from the celebrations and sought out a tearful Salah to console him over his defeat.

"Mane always been there for Salah," wrote one Twitter user, typifying the reaction.

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