Yaoundé (AFP) – Mohamed Salah is determined to experience the “special” feeling of lifting the Africa Cup of Nations for Egypt as he prepares to come up against Sadio Mane’s Senegal in Sunday’s final in Yaounde.
“It is very special to win a trophy with your country,” Liverpool star Salah said at a press conference on Saturday ahead of the final at the Olembe Stadium.
“I won the Champions League which was a great feeling, and I won the Premier League after 30 years with my club. I won in Switzerland, I won everywhere, and also I want to have that feeling of winning my first trophy with my country.
“How special it would be. I am so excited and everyone is ready so hopefully we can win it tomorrow.”
The final sees the record seven-time African champions come up against a Senegal side who are the continent’s top-ranked team but who have never lifted the trophy, despite twice reaching the final.
However, Salah’s battle with his Liverpool teammate Mane has focused much of the attention as the two come up against each other at international level for the first time since they joined up at Anfield.
“It’s great to play against Senegal as a team and also against Sadio. We are going to be rivals and after the game we will be teammates again,” he said.
The two have already briefly crossed paths in Cameroon, meeting at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde in between Egypt’s quarter-final win against Morocco and Senegal’s victory against Equatorial Guinea, both played on the same ground.
Mane starred in that win for Senegal despite suffering a nasty head knock against Cape Verde in the previous round.
“We had a small chat after the Morocco game, we saw each other and I was checking how his head was. I said hopefully we would meet in the final and have a good game,” Salah said.
Meanwhile Salah dismissed suggestions that fatigue could be a factor for the Egyptians, who needed penalties to beat both the Ivory Coast in the last 16 and Cameroon in the semi-finals, as well as extra time to overcome Morocco in between.
“It’s a final. No-one will think about being tired,” he insisted.
“If we think about being tired we will remember the people in Egypt and think about making them happy.
“We train good, we recover good, we eat good, we sleep good. Everybody is happy and fit and excited.
“If we have to go for 120 (minutes) we will, and if we have to go for 360 we will. Whatever it takes we will to make it happen.”
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