2019 AFCON: Senegal eye final berth against Tunisia
Pre-tournament favourites Senegal will battle Tunisia for a place in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final at 30 Stadium in Cairo on Sunday evening.
Ranked as the top to teams on the continent, an exciting tussle awaits in the Egyptian capital with either Algeria or Nigeria to join either of the two teams in the showpiece set for Cairo International Stadium on July 19.
Senegal booked their place in the semifinals with a 1-0 win over an impressive Benin side. Everton's Idrissa Gana Gueye scored the only goal of the game, as the Lions of Teranga continue their pursuit of a maiden Afcon crown.
The 2002 runners-up are hoping to register only their second final appearance, having lost to Cameroon in Mali 17 years ago; when head coach Aliou Cissé was still a player for the West African nation.
After finishing behind Algeria in their group, narrow wins over Uganda and Benin followed as Senegal now look forward to a final four showdown against an improving Tunisian outfit.
Senegal captain Sadio Mane, who helped Liverpool to a sixth Uefa Champions League title last month, believes continental glory will eclipse what he achieved with the Reds in Madrid.
"Going to Dakar with the trophy would be extraordinary," said Mane.
"My absolute dream is to help Senegal win the Africa Cup of Nations - that would surpass even what I achieved with Liverpool in the Champions League.
"We have to accept being among the favourites and many people are assuming we will play Algeria in the final.
"All four semifinalists are quality sides and all can go on and win this competition. The champions will be the team that wants the trophy the most," he concluded.
The Carthage of Eagles finally found their groove with a 3-0 thumping of Madagascar last time out. Tunisia played to three successive group stage draws against Angola, Mali and Mauritania respectively to duly sneak into the knockout stages before edging Ghana on penalties in the Round of 16.
The North African's, though, finally showcased what they are capable of with goals from Ferjani Sassi, Youssef Msakni and Naim Sliti leading them to a commanding win over Barea.
Tunisia head coach Alain Giresse is wary of the threat posed by Senegal, highlighting that his team will have to rise to a new level if they are to reach a fourth Afcon final.
"We did everything to qualify and we're happy with everything," said Giresse.
"I won't answer any criticism, were in the semifinal. It's not constructive. Senegal are a strong team and they're different from any other team. They have Sadio Mane, whom I predicted a great future for before. But, we'll be ready."
Tunisia's only Afcon victory came on home soil 15 years ago, with a 1-0 quarterfinal win over Senegal paving the way for victories over Nigeria and ultimately Morocco in the tournament final in Rades.