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Africa Cup of Nations

Watford’s Sarr cried after Senegal beat Egypt to lift first-ever Afcon title in Cameroon

4:57 PM SGT 18/2/22
Ismaila Sarr of Senegal reacts and Watford.
The 23-year-old reveals emotions that followed the Lion of Teranga’s victory against the Pharaohs in the final of the continental finals

Watford winger Ismaila Sarr has revealed why he cried after Senegal beat Egypt to lift the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations title in Cameroon.

The Lions of Teranga started the 33rd edition of the tournament at a slow pace but after reaching the Round of 16, they became ruthless as they reached their second successive final, where they outlasted the Pharaohs 4-2 on penalties to lift their first-ever title.

The 23-year-old winger, who was not involved in group stage matches but made his return against Equatorial Guinea in the 3-1 quarter-final win after recovering from injury, was taking part in his third Afcon and has explained the feeling of finally winning the trophy.

“We obviously left to go to Cameroon with the objective to win the cup, and everyone was behind us,” Sarr said as quoted by Watford's official website. “The fact that we won for the first time is something that is very, very important for everyone.

“That’s my third African Cup. On the first one we got knocked out by Cameroon and I remember crying because it hurt so much.

“The second one we got eliminated in the final against Algeria and again I can remember how much it hurt, and I cried again. But this time in the final I must say I cried because of the happiness because we finally won.

“The whole country went on to the streets to celebrate with us, it was a lot of people. We were very happy, but when we went back to Senegal and saw everyone, we were even happier. We saw how much it meant to everyone.”

Sarr’s Afcon dream appeared to be over even though he travelled with the team to Cameroon with an injury picked up in November’s Premier League game against Manchester United, and the player has explained what he went through after realising the injury was serious.

“I thought it was just a knock, but when I tried to walk, I could feel it was painful,” Sarr continued. “I stayed in the dressing room that day and I was trying to understand what was going on.

“Eventually, I found out it was a bad injury and I started working straight away to be able to come back to play for the club.

“When I realised I was actually on the right path, I decided to go to the Afcon with the idea of winning. I tried to be focused and to concentrate, to be able to recover as soon as possible, and I did it.”

Sarr has further stated why he was not nervous starting in the final at Olembe Stadium.

“I was not nervous because it’s not my first time playing in a final and it’s not the first time that I play football,” explained Sarr.

“Of course, I was very excited when the manager told me I was going to start, I was representing my country in a final and all I thought about was going on to the pitch to win a game.”

Sarr also spoke of the confidence he had his teammates will do the job when the game proceeded to penalties after a 0-0 result after extra time.

“I saw everyone running, so I ran as well, and I realised we won the cup, but at the very beginning, I was telling myself it wasn’t true. And the other people were telling me it was, that we’d won the cup! It’s going to be something I will take with me for the rest of my life,” Sarr concluded.