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2022 CHAN Final Preview: Algeria vs. Senegal

The 2022 African Nations Championship (CHAN) for domestic-based national teams will reach its conclusion on Saturday evening’s final as Senegal clashes with hosts Algeria at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers. Algeria are coming off a brilliant performance against Niger in the semifinals, defeating the Ménas 5-0 after the result of all their previous tournament matches ended 1-0. Senegal’s level continues to increase with the young Local Lions getting better and better during the course of their run in Algeria.

The hosts are fit and ready to deliver a trophy to their home support and will be ready on Saturday according to coach Madjid Bougherra. In order to win a first ever CHAN, Algeria will need to take down a Senegalese side they have some familiarity with. The two teams played to a 2-2 draw in a December friendly match that served as preparation for the competition and Bougherra knows the opponents are more than capable of breaking Algeria’s perfect defensive record of no goals conceded. Bougherra led Algeria to win the 2021 FIFA Arab Cup and has experience in his favor.

A big question from the media is who Bougherra will start in goal. Alexis Guendouz was sent off in the quarterfinal against Ivory Coast and his replacement, Farid Chaâl, stepped in and looked capable giving the coach a difficult decision to make. Whoever starts in goal will have an excellent defense in front of them with three strong center backs in Chouaib Keddad, Zinedine Belaïd and Ayoub Abdellaoui.

Deep-lying midfielder Houssem Mrezigue also provides additional cover and precise passing to set up wide players Mokhtar Belkhiter (right side) and Youssef Laoufi (left side). Tournament leading scorer Aymen Mathious has scored in all four of his starts and provides a lethal threat at the top of the Algerian formation.

Senegal coach Pape Thiaw remains a confident figure after leading his team past tournament darlings Madagascar with a tactical victory in their 1-0 semifinal result. The former striker in his playing days is clear about how his team’s performance is a reflection of the progress of Senegalese domestic football and now his group has an opportunity to accomplish something similar to the senior national team’s capture of the Africa Cup of Nations last year. Thiaw said the experience of being a player on the 2002 AFCON team that lost the final in penalty kicks motivates him to make sure his team does not suffer a similar fate.

The Senegalese defense has been strong with only one goal conceded against Uganda in the group stage with Casa Sports center back Ousmane Diouf a veteran leader. Right back Mamadou Sané made an important contribution against Madagascar with an assist on the only goal and precise crossing. Ousmane Kane sits at the base of the midfield and will give the defensive line additional cover.

In front of Kane is Senegal’s candidate for Player of the Tournament, Génération Foot midfielder Lamine Camara, who is growing into a star and is the team’s main candidate for a move to a major European league as well as a player who could be integrated into the senior team under Aliou Cissé. Scoring goals has been an issue for Senegal with plenty of chances but generally poor finishing. Papa Diallo is getting better and better on the wing with his pace and dribbling causing issues, leading to the match winner against Madagascar. Striker Cheikh Diouf struggled in training with an injury concern and is questionable for Saturday’s final.

More on both teams is in the links below.

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