Algeria has been rocked by months of protests finds a moment of unity as the country wins the African Cup of Nations for the second time.
Dakar, Senegal - Overnight, the streets of Dakar turned red, yellow and green with the colours of the flag being spray-painted on tires and tarmac in preparation for the final 2019 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) match that was held yesterday in Egypt between Algeria and Senegal.
Senegal had not made it to the Afcon finals since 2002 when it was the runner-up that lost against Cameroon. Since then, the national Lions of Terranga team have not made it past 8th finals in the biennial cup.
Dakar was energised for a hard win against Algeria in this 32nd Afcon. Algeria went into the game knowing that it had already beat Senegal during the fixture match earlier in June.
The Algerian team, however, could boast some solid players such as former Manchester City player Ryad Mahrez, and the team has been the country to score the most goals during this Afcon.
The continental championships carry a specific significance for Senegal. In 2002, it was the coach of the Senegalese team today, Aliou Cisse, who at the time was the player who missed the penalty in the finals which led to Senegal’s defeat.
The streets of Dakar were rooting for this generation to see a victory finally.
According to the Algerian Embassy in Dakar, only a few hundred Algerians are living in Senegal.
I spoke with a 26-year-old Algerian who has been living in Dakar for the past nine years.
Mohamed Djebli, a sixth-year Algerian medical student in Dakar, wishes he were in Algeria at a time like this, but he ended up watching the match from the Algerian Embassy in Dakar tonight.
‘’We are happy to reach the 2019 Afcon final. I think that it will be very interesting. We qualified as the first of the group with Senegal who were the favourites since the beginning. We won the first match against them, and after that, we started dreaming.
I have been studying in Senegal since 2010, and I have made myself here."
"If Senegal was playing against another team, I would be supporting Senegal" adds Djebli.
I asked Djebli with the revolution that is taking place in Algeria this year does he think that this final match will have any particular signification back home?
"It’s a coincidence that there’s a revolution taking place now in Algeria, that the people are getting out to ask for their rights. Yes, it can change things because it will motivate the players, push them forward.
Maybe, however, the revolution will continue, the country will regain its rights so it would be just a plus, a plus!"
As in Algeria, Senegal has been embroiled in scandals in particular governmental mismanagement of petrol which has divided the nation.
Xavier, head of the breakdancing team (PowerCrew) hoped that a win for Senegal would "reunite the people."
Peoples faces turned from joy to anguish as Senegalese fans watched the match live in specially designated 'fan zones'.
Baghdad Bounedjah’s second-minute deflected goal sealed Senegal's fate early on. While Senegal had a penalty overturned by VAR.
The West African team had their hopes dashed as Algeria secured their second continental title since 1990 before many in the current team were even born.