For the first time since 2018, the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) will have a new champion.
Both hosts Algeria and Senegal are featuring in the final for the first time ever in the continental competition organized for players that ply their trade in the domestic leagues with the sole aim of lifting the trophy on February 4.
The Desert Foxes are yet to concede a goal in five games and their 5-0 emphatic victory over Niger in the semi-finals showed a side that is flawless and unstoppable.
However, in Senegal, Algeria will find a well-oiled team that has struck a balance between attack and defence. Pape Thiaw’s team has shown attacking prowess and in midfielder Lamine Camara, the Senegalese look smooth in transition.
Senegal have conceded just one goal in the tournament in a 1-0 defeat to Uganda but have since been consistent and could have scored more than one goal against Madagascar in the semi-final if they had not been wasteful.
But the Local Teranga Lions will want to avoid that when they face Madjid Bougherra’s side on Saturday in a highly contested final that is a repeat of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final in Egypt won by Algeria 1-0.
Senegal, who have enjoyed a great run of results in the past one year winning both the AFCON 2021 in Cameroon last February and the Beach Soccer AFCON last October in Mozambique, will want to complete the treble in Algeria.
But the hosts are desperate to lift the trophy at home in front of their fans at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Baraki, Algiers.
For Bougherra, this would be his second international trophy in 14 months after guiding Algeria to the FIFA Arab Cup in Qatar in December 2021.
“I enjoyed that tournament and learnt so much from it. I have since applied the lessons to this team and now playing at home means so much to us and our fans. We want to make them proud,” Bougherra told CAFOnline.
His counterpart Thiaw wants to write a new chapter with Senegal.
Coaching at his first major tournament, the former Senegal international who featured at the 2002 World Cup when the Teranga Lions enjoyed a good run to reach the quarterfinals, is inspired to hand the Senegalese fans yet another trophy.
This platform presents the opportunity for a dream final that will definitely see the best two teams in the tournament battling for the coveted crown on Saturday at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Baraki, Algiers at 1930GMT.