Senegal overcame a goal deficit to defeat Morocco 2-1 in a thrilling final of AFCON U17 at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers.
Mamadou Sawane scored the game-winning goal seven minutes from time to become the hero of the night.
This was Senegal’s first-ever TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) championship.
Morocco took the lead in the 14th minute on a goal from captain Abdelhamid Ait Boudlal, which they held onto until Serigne Falou Diouf scored a VAR-awarded penalty in the 79th.
Four minutes later, Sawane towered the entire defense to head home, capping the Teranga Cubs’ arduous comeback.
Senegal has now won a third consecutive continental championship in less than four months.
Their local-based team previously won the CHAN title in February at the same location as their victory on Friday, and the U20 AFCON trophy in Egypt in March.
When they won the AFCON 2021 championship in February of last year, their senior national team started to rule the continent. Later that year, they added the AFCON Beach Soccer championship to their tally.
Both sides were playing in their first final and were in uncharted terrain going into the match on Friday night, but Morocco would take the lead first.
In order to score off an Abdel Hamid Maali corner, captain Ait Boudlal outran his defenders and outran the goalkeeper.
For Said Chiba’s team, it was a relieving goal because just ten minutes earlier, the Senegalese had come near when captain Amara Diouf’s free kick flew inches wide of the goal.
As the game progressed, both teams fought for control, but there were less clear-cut opportunities to score.
Senegal got off to a quicker start in the second half, with Mamadou Sadio shooting narrowly over with only 45 seconds remaining in the period. Maali’s attempt from the edge of the box gave Morocco a chance on the other end, but it missed the target.
Senegal’s comeback occurred in the 76th minute as Moroccan captain Ait Boudlal was found guilty of handling the ball inside the box.
The referee granted the penalty after looking at the pitch-side monitor, and Serigne buried it.
The Senegalese were motivated by the goal, and they put pressure on Morocco in the game’s last 10 minutes.
Four minutes later, they received their reward as substitute Sawane charged into the six-yard box and headed in the game-winning goal from a corner.
Even senior national team coach Walid Regragui, who had flown in for the final, was shocked by the goal and stood inconsolably at his VIP dias seat in dismay.
The goal shattered the whole Moroccan team.
Senegal successfully completed the remaining minutes plus six additional minutes to capture the championship for the first time ever.