Egypt praises 'champion' footballers after heartbreaking AFCON final defeat to Senegal

Egypt praises 'champion' footballers after heartbreaking AFCON final defeat to Senegal
Despite Egypt's defeat to Senegal in the AFCON final, public figures praised the national team.
3 min read
07 February, 2022
Sisi praises national football team despite defeat before Senegal in AFCON final. [Getty]

CAIRO - Egyptians praised the country's national football team after its heartbreaking defeat on Sunday to Senegal in a hard-fought Africa Cup of Nations [AFCON] final.

The team drew 0-0 with the West African side before going out on a penalty shoot-out. Egyptians praised the team for their campaign and wished them the best for the World Cup qualifiers, the finals set to take place in Qatar later this year.

Egypt and Senegal will face off next month in two matches for a place in the World Cup finals.

Following the game, Egypt President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi tweeted: "I would like to extend my greetings and appreciation to our football team for their extraordinary performance during the African Cup of Nations."

"You did what you had to do, you earned everybody's respect, you were worthy of trust and you honoured your homeland. We are confident you will make up for this… and make Egyptians happy by qualifying to the World Cup."         

Egyptian public figures showed support for the Egyptian team on social media.

Famous preacher Mostafa Hosny wrote: "Congratulations for the national team’s footballers, even if they didn't win the championship. Thanks for exceeding the expectations. You held yourselves together despite rising criticism…. Always champions."

Egyptian actor Nabil El-Halafawy told the team to hold their head highs despite the crushing last game blow.

"Never be sad. It is illogical to [forget] all the immense efforts our children did to cherish millions [of Egyptians]," he tweeted.

"Your sadness will break them and they don't deserve to be broken. We must remain happy and proud of them. They honoured us and held our heads high and have to return [home] with their heads high and be received as champions."

Prominent sports critic Hassan El-Mestikawy begs to differ, though.

"We are deeply sad and in pain, but not deeply angry. There is a difference between sadness and anger. Hard luck is said to a person who does his job well. Our players did an immense effort, playing four matches, 120 minutes each," Mestikawy said.

"We have to consider what we missed. We played with teams before that possess physical powers as Senegal… our players did not fall short in meeting our expectations… but we need to realise they had been extremely exhausted," he told talk show host Lamis El-Hadidi in a phone interview following the game on her daily show broadcast on ON satellite TV channel.

"We need to develop our frontline offense…. the [coach] followed the same plane he adopted in the three matches the [team] played before, especially in the first half of the [match with Senegal]."

Senegal won the championship for the first time in its history, after beating Egypt 4-2 in a penalty shootout.

Egypt is still the most successful team in the African Cup of Nations lifting the trophy seven times.