African Cup of Nations Final Much More Than Mane vs. Mahrez

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Meanwhile, having been stripped of hosting 2019 AFCON due to a lack of preparation, Cameroon will now welcome 23 other nations for the 33rd edition in 2021.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is concerned about winger Sadio Mane ahead of the new season.

His absence is a huge blow to a backline breached just once in this competition, with Salif Sane, injured during Senegal's opening match against Tanzania, likely to start alongside Cheikhou Kouyate.

It was striking how two coaches who are good friends, who played against each other in their early days, and who were born just a day apart, expressed their joy with nearly carbon-copy acts.

This one has all the ingredients to be the ideal showpiece.

The race for the Afcon 2019 Golden Boot is absolutely wide open. Odion Ighalo's fine form has elevated him to the top of the goalscoring charts with four strikes but just behind him on three are Algeria's Ounas and Mahrez, as well as Senegal's Mane.

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The matchup between two defensively stout attacking threats should prove to be a thriller, especially considering the semifinal nailbiters from which they advanced. "Even if the match was going to be played tomorrow we are ready".

That victory in the group stage may or may not give Algeria a psychological edge here, but it's one of several displays that have underlined Algeria's status as the best team in the tournament. However, Friday's showdown pits Aliou Cisse's side against one of their perennial bogey teams.

Algeria won the group match 1-0 - which sealed their spot in the last 16 - thanks to a 49th-minute Youcef Belaili goal.

"At the time, there was also a political rivalry between Egypt and Algeria to determine who historically was the leader of the Arab world", said Pascal Boniface, director of the Paris-based Institute of global and Strategic Relations and author of "The Geopolitics of sport". This ball is the only missed on the liabilities side of Senegal.

"For me, the best period was in January-February when they were playing a lot of games for their clubs in England, Germany, Spain, Italy, France or in other countries", added LeRoy, who is now in charge of Togo. FC Schalke's Salif Sane is likely to step in to fill the void.

It will be the second time they have met in the current tournament with Algeria outmuscling Senegal to win 1-0 in the group stage. They are former national team players for their countries who have graduated to the top job, which is uncommon in Africa.

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