African Cup of Nations: Algeria crowned champions with win over Senegal
Algeria won the African Cup of Nations for the second time when a freak second-minute goal by Baghdad Bounedjah gave them a 1-0 win over Senegal in the final in Cairo.
Bounedjah stunned the West African side with a shot that took a deflection off defender Salif Sane and looped over the goalkeeper Alfred Gomis and into the net.
Algeria, who committed 32 fouls according to official match statistics, sat back after that and had to scrap for their win in a match that was certainly not a classic, but was tense and gripping throughout.
Senegal, beaten by Cameroon on their only previous appearance in the final in 2002, were awarded a penalty for handball in the second half, but the decision was revoked following a video assistant referee (VAR) review, which is football’s instant replay system.
Senegal were missing Kalidou Koulibaly, arguably Africa's finest defender, through suspension, and his absence was quickly felt.
The final whistle provoked wild celebrations among the big contingent of travelling Algeria fans. It was a fitting end to a tournament that, with 24 teams for the first time, produced plentiful drama even if quality was sometimes lacking.
Several Algerians who flew to Cairo earlier told Middle East Eye that the football match has political parallels.
"In Algeria, we are still fresh from protesting and demonstrating, so we relate to what happened to Egypt," 23-year-old Mehdi Omar told MEE.
Fans said the match has much more meaning this year because of the changes unfolding in their country after the fall of longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
"I hope that political forces will be united and set aside the differences, so we are not controlled again by the army," Omar said.