Senegal on Friday beat Nigeria 6-1 to claim their fifth Beach Soccer Africa Cup of Nations title.
It is their fourth title in five years and it was the second time the Lions have beaten Nigeria to claim the title in two years – following an 8-2 win in the 2016 final in Lagos. Senegal also defeated Nigeria on penalties in the first match of the tournament, which held in Egypt.
Hosts Egypt beat Morocco 3-2 to win the third place match. Both Nigeria and Senegal will represent Africa in the 2019 Beach Soccer World Cup in Paraguay.
According to Beach Soccer Worldwide, Nigeria started on the front foot with record goalscorer Abu Azeez scoring his 104th goal in the colours of the country. But Senegal came back into the game as Mamour Diagne found the space to strike in the equaliser.
Then Lansana Diassy, who had been in good form throughout the tournament, got his name on the score sheet too. He grabbed the lead for Senegal. However, the two sides ended the second period at each other’s throats.
The Supersand Eagles capitulated in the third period – scoring no goal and conceding four to lose their bid for a third continental title.
The Senegalese threw everything they had at the Nigerians and got the desired goals. The boosted offensive began with Babacar Fall, who increased the advantage to two goals with a fierce shot after goalkeeper Paul Dami came off his line.
Then Raoul Mendy held off a defender and swivel to shoot – to make it four to Senegal. Mendy scored again moments later, twisting and turning away from two defenders to drive a low shot past Paul.
AndDiagne ran onto a lay-off to power a first-time shot home to make it six with just a minute to go, the match was out of reach for Nigeria.
Azeez ended the tournament with eight goals but lost the highest goalscorer’s award to Ivory Coast’s Assouan Eric, who finished with nine goals.
Meanwhile, former captain of the team Isiaka Olawale has called for early preparations for the team ahead of the Paraguay 2019 World Cup.
Olawale, who praised the team for their efforts at getting the ticket for the World Cup, said the team could spring a surprise if they prepare adequately for the tournament.
“It is really good to see that the boys gave their all in Egypt and got to the final. They played against teams who have grown very strong in beach soccer and are becoming very difficult for Nigeria to beat,” he said.
“I believe that the set of boys in the team now, have the passion and hunger to succeed and will give a good account of themselves at the World Cup next year. But they need to prepare well for the tournament.
“Beach Soccer is different from normal football and it takes a lot of practice to become very good in it. I believe the team will have learnt from tournament and they will get better before the World Cup begins.”