Senegal’s President Macky Sall declared Monday a public holiday to celebrate the national football team’s first-ever African Cup of Nations crown following their victory against Egypt, public television announced.
Sall, who had been due to visit Comoros, cancelled it in order to welcome the triumphant Lions on their return to Dakar at 1300 GMT Monday, RTS said.
Led by Liverpool star, Sadio Mane, Senegal overcame Mohamed Salah’s Egypt 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out at Sunday’s final in Cameroon. The game had finished goalless after extra time.
After two previous final defeats in 2002 and 2019, Senegal finally claimed their first Cup of Nations title.
The Lions will be decorated by Sall on Tuesday at the presidential palace in Dakar, AFP quoted RTS television as saying.
It also said: “The president of the republic declared Monday a public holiday, a paid day off, following the brilliant victory of the Lions.”
Meanwhile, AFP said Dakar exploded with joy at the end of the match on Sunday.
“African champions. What a game! What a team! You did it. Beautiful moment of football, beautiful moment of communion and national pride. Congratulations to our heroes,” Senegalese President Macky Sall tweeted after the Lions’ win Sunday night.
Dakar erupted when Liverpool star Mane scored the decisive penalty to give Senegal the win.
Hundreds of supporters in Senegal jerseys flocked to Independence Square, near the presidential palace in the heart of Dakar, to celebrate.
The square vibrated to the sound of car horns, vuvuzelas, whistles and firecrackers.
A festive atmosphere spread across the capital, with national flags hung from buildings, on vehicles and on sidewalks.
At the massive African Renaissance Monument which towers above the capital from a hill overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, dozens of fans hugged each other amid bonfires after the penalty shoot-out.
“I’m happy. It’s the best day of my life,” 25-year-old Modou Ba, a car washer, told AFP.
“We waited a long time. (The cup) is finally here. We really needed it,” said Seydou Nourou Diop, a 27-year-old accountant.
Student Khadim Lo, 21, said he was “very proud of our Lions. It’s exceptional.”
At the foot of the monument, supporters then left the fanzone to reach the street, some standing on cars and mingling with the crowds coming out of their homes to celebrate.
Earlier, the tense shoot-out saw some anxious supporters in tears and even unable to watch the screen, Mane having missed a penalty during the normal time, his shot saved by Egypt goalkeeper Mohamed Abou Gabal.
“He must not miss the penalty. For a final, the great player does not miss. It’s unacceptable,” fumed Pape Mbaye, a 24-year-old driver.
The crowd started to relax as two Egyptian shots missed the mark.
They finally exploded with joy after Mane converted the last shot to make Senegal African champions. (AFP)