Titleholder Senegal Eliminated by Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations

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February 25, 2024

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(DAKAR, Senegal) — Former champion Senegal was defeated 1-1 (4-5 PENS) by Ivory Coast, host of this year’s African Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2024,  on Jan. 29. This loss ended Senegal’s winning streak of four games resulting in forfeiting their championship. Before this match, the ex-champions secured the first spot during the group stages, qualifying for the eighth-final with a win against Guinea 2-0 a week earlier.

The game was played at the Charles-Konan-Banny stadium of Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast.

The game’s first half was full of promise for Senegal as striker Habib Diallo scored a goal in the third minute of the game against Ivory Coast. During the second half, however, the Lions’ luck changed when goalkeeper Édouard Mendy tackled down Ivorian striker Nicolas Pépé, gifting a penalty shot to the latter’s teammate, Francis Kessié. This foul earned Ivory Coast an equalization game to 1-1 for the Ivory Coast. 

Both teams fought hard, maintaining the same score until the 90th minute and long after the extra time. Finally, they went to penalty kicks, and Ivory Coast won with a flawless streak as all four players scored, earning a 5-4 only when Moussa Niakhaté (Senegal) missed as he hit the left spot. Ivory Coast is now qualified for the following quarterfinals. 

Senegalese citizens express their sadness on Instagram and platform X while Ivorians celebrate in the streets of their country and worldwide. Messages of disbelief appeared across the media as Senegal was the only team to win all its group-stage matches, and Ivory Coast finished third in their group with only one win and two losses.

Usher Komugisha, a sports journalist and commentator, tweeted, “NONE of the quarter-finalists from the AFCON 2021 will feature in the last eight at the AFCON 2023.” She proceeded to list the losing teams, mentioning Senegal.

The Ivoirians expressed their relief across social media about winning as they had barely made it to the eighth finals and took a significant loss from their game against Equatorial Guinea on Jan. 22. 

Mimi Fawaz, a journalist for BBC Sports, tweeted, “Absolute scenes of joy as the hosts Ivory Coast knock out the defending champions Senegal of Afcon last 16.” She accompanied her tweet with a video of the supporters celebrating joyfully in the stadium.

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