For the first time in the history of African football since the 1998 Cup of Nations, two African coaches will face-off in the final on Friday at the Cairo International Stadium in a game that promises fireworks.
In 1978, the tournament experienced this historic achievement for the first time when host nation Ghana, coached by Fred Osam-Duodu came up against a Ugandan side in the final led by Peter Okee who was also the coach of his native country in a pulsating match with Ghana emerging as winners for the third time by a 2-0 scoreline with both goals coming from the boots of legend Opoku Afriyie.
Fast forward to 1998, after two decades of exciting football on the African continent, the record was finally broken in Burkina Faso when Egypt won the trophy for a record fourth time and for the first time with an Egyptian at the helm of affairs in the person of Mahmoud El-Gohary when they saw off the challenge from Bafana Bafana of South Africa by 2-0 scoreline with goals from Ahmed Hassan and Tarek Mostafa respectively.
Friday’s final will see two perennial underachievers on the continent with just one Africa Cup of Nations winners medal between them as The Teranga Lions of Senegal take on Algeria’s Desert Warriors.
One time champions, Algeria will be itching to add to the 1990 AFCON success while Senegal aim at ending the AFCON trophy drought in Egypt.
The Nations Cup for the third time will witness two local coaches battling each other for supremacy and bragging right as Aliou Cisse, coach of Senegal sets his sights on the trophy to win it for his country and to make history after the heart break he experienced in 2002 as a player while Djamel Belmadi of Algeria looks to add honours to the country’s only trophy won some 29 years ago on home soil.
Algeria won their semi-finals game against the stubborn Super Eagles of Nigeria whilst Senegal over came the solid Cartage Eagles of Tunisia in extra time in a dramatic fashion to leave the two eagles battle for a bronze medal.
By Delrand Ansah Mensah Whyte (SKIPPER), Daily Mail GH