2022 has been a big year in football for the African continent, with the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon to start and then the World Cup in Qatar to finish. Senegal’s first continental title, Morocco’s historic career at the World Cup, the crowning of South Africans and Wydad… A look back at the major events of the year.
CAN: a first for Sadio Mané’s Senegal…
50 years after the last African Cup of Nations at home, Cameroon once again hosted the great continental event in January-February. But as in 1972, the Indomitable Lions did not triumph at home. The victory was offered to Senegal, one of the favorites, unfortunate finalist in 2019.
The final, between the team of Sadio Mané and the Egypt of his comrade in Liverpool Mohamed Salah, was balanced until the end of regulation time and extra time. It was therefore necessary to go through penalties to decide between the Lions of Teranga and the Pharaohs. On his line, Édouard Mendy made a decisive save in front of Mohanad Lasheen. And behind, captain Mané, unlucky in the same exercise at the start of the match, did not shake. The striker scored the winning shot on goal, giving Senegal its first continental title (0-0, 4 shots on goal to 2). Sadio Mané also had the pleasure of being voted Best Player of the CAN.
Among the positive surprises of this 2021 edition played at the start of 2022, let us note in particular the Comoros and the Gambia. The Cœlacanthes, who were participating in their first CAN, managed to climb to the round of 16, despite the Covid-19 which caused several withdrawals and forced an outfield player, Chaker Alhadhur, to play as goalkeeper during of the match lost against Cameroon. The Gambian Scorpions, also novices and guided by the Belgian globetrotter Tom Sainfiet, went to the quarter-finals, where they also fell to the Cameroonians.
This men’s CAN will also be remembered because of a tragedy at the Olembé stadium, before the Cameroon-Comoros match, on January 24. A crowd movement at the gates of the new enclosure caused the death of eight people, including a child.
►Also read: CAN 2022: Senegal snatches the first African Cup in its history
… and for South Africans
Morocco dreamed of winning the 14th edition of the women’s CAN at home, the first whose final phase brought together 12 teams. However, after a controlled tournament, the Moroccans had to bow to South Africa (2-1), after the final played in Rabat on July 23, 2022.
In a packed Moulay-Abdallah stadium (45,000 spectators) and in oppressive heat, the match changed after the hour mark, when fatigue set in in the ranks of Morocco. The Banyana Banyana scored twice in ten minutes. The Moroccans, dazed, managed to react and reduce the gap, but that was not enough to hope for better.
Nigeria, with its 11 coronations including the last three, leaves the crown this year to South Africa. After five defeats in the final, the daughters of Desiree Ellis finally put their name on the charts. South Africa is the third country to win the women’s CAN, after Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea (two victories).
►Also read: Foot: South Africa wins the women’s CAN 2022 against Morocco
Regragui offers himself the CAF Champions League with Wydad…
What a year for Walid Regragui! 2022 consecrated the former player who became a coach. Appointed at the head of Wydad Casablanca in August 2021, the ex-defender led the club to victory in the CAF Champions League. In the final, on May 30, 2022, the Moroccan club won against the Egyptians of Al-Ahly (2-0). Wydad thus entered its name on the list for the third time, after the coronations of 1992 and 2017.
Then, at the end of August, Walid Regragui took over from Vahid Halilhodzic as Morocco coach. The Bosnian, quarter-finalist of the CAN at the start of the year, was dismissed less than three months from the World Cup in Qatar. For many, it was a daring decision before such an appointment. But on arrival, what a success…
►Also read: Wydad Casablanca offers a third Champions League
OFFICIAL ! 🏆
Wydad Casablanca wins the 2021/2022 African Champions League! #TotalEnergiesCAFCL ❤️🤍
Victory 2-0 against Al Ahly thanks to a double from Zouheir El Moutaraji, including a magnificent goal. 💥🇲🇦 pic.twitter.com/8CgFYsgFWK
— Instant Foot ⚽️ (@lnstantFoot) May 30, 2022
… and wrote Morocco’s World Cup history
In Qatar, the Atlas Lions shone with a thousand lights, with Walid Regragui as the red thread of the success of Moroccan football, from Wydad to the national team. Few bettors had bet on a place in the last four of the competition for the Moroccans. And yet.
Walid Regragui began by recalling Hakim Ziyech to the national team, banned by Vahid Halilhodzic. His team entered the World Cup well by neutralizing Croatia (0-0), vice-world champion in title, before bringing down Belgium (2-0) and Canada (2-1) to finish at the top of the F group.
In the round of 16, Morocco offered the scalp of Spain, thanks in particular to the miracles of Yassine Bounou (0-0, 3 shots on goal to 0). In the quarters, it was Portugal’s turn to suffer the Moroccan lightning (1-0), with a victorious goal signed Youssef En-Nesyri, unbeatable in the aerial game.
The great adventure finally ended in the semi-final against the France team, less blunt and more realistic (2-0). And during the match for the third time, Morocco this time had to lay down their arms against Croatia (2-1). This did not prevent the players and the staff from returning to the country with their heads held high. The supporters welcomed the Atlas Lions as heroes. Never has an African team gone so far in the World Cup.
►Also read:World Cup: Moroccans behind their team before a historic France-Morocco
►Also read: World Cup 2022: France dismisses Morocco and will challenge Argentina in the final
Among the five African selections present at the World Cup, we must not forget the good performance of Senegal. Although deprived of Sadio Mané, injured in the right fibula in early November, the Teranga Lions passed the first round before losing to England (3-0). Cameroon and Tunisia did not survive the group stage, but they came out with prestigious victories against Brazil (1-0) and France (1-0).
►Also read: 2022 World Cup: Cameroon overcomes Brazil but is eliminated, Switzerland passes