Senegal’s Young Lions Triumph in 2023 Under-20 Afcon as CAF Champions League action intensifies 

Senegal winners celebrating after final match against Gambia at Cairo International Stadium. (Photo - Cafonline)

Senegal bagged their first Under-20 Afcon trophy after losing out three times. More thrilling action is expected in African football as Africa’s top clubs square off in the on-going champions league.

African football fans across the continent were granted a thrilling weekend of intense action with crucial Caf matches taking center stage.

From the TotalEnergies Afcon U-20 finals to the fourth round group matches of the Caf champions, teams battled it out on different venues across Africa in search of African football victors.

The Young Teranga Lions of Senegal were crowned the 2023 TotalEnergies Afcon U-20 champions after thrashing Gambia 2-0 in an ecstatic final match in Cairo on Saturday.

A strategic header by Sulaymane Faye from the right wing in the 6th minute gave Malick Daf’s boys an early lead in the game, a score that advanced Senegal’s chances of victory as the game went into halftime.

Mamadou Camara offered a successful finish to a cross from Pape Diallo ten minutes into the second half.

The scoreboard did not change, allowing Senegal to maintain their clean sheet throughout the competition.

They won all games in the tournament and did not concede a single goal.

This is Senegal’s first Afcon u-20 win despite making it to the finals in 2015, 2017, and 2019.

More significantly, however, the victory by the young cubs makes Senegal the holder of four different continental titles.

These include the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2022, CAF Beach Soccer CAN 2022, CAF African Nations Championships 2023, and now the CAF Under 20 Afcon.

The awarding ceremony also saw Senegal players dominate in the awards.

19-year-old Pape Diop scooped the coveted Umbro Golden Boot award, having scored five goals in the competition.

Teranga Lions goalkeeper Landing Badji was also named the tournament’s Best Goalkeeper by keeping six clean sheets.

Also, 19-year-old forward Lamine Camara was awarded the best player of the Afcon u-20.

The new Metz FC signing was vital for the Senegal team’s victory.

Other notable awardees include Nigeria, who earned the Fair Play award for professionalism, dedication, passion, and discipline throughout the tournament.

Nigeria exited the competition in third place after securing a 4-0 win against Tunisia on Friday.

Elsewhere, CAF Champions League experienced a weekend full of action, with club teams fighting to secure their place in the last 8.

South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns staged a fierce home fight on Saturday in Pretoria, crushing record champions Al Ahly 5-2.

Mamelodi Sundowns are the second to secure their place in the quarter-finals after Raja Casablanca of Morocco. The fourth group match also saw the Brazilians move to the top of Group B with 10 points, 6 points ahead of Al Ahly.

The Egyptians have two group matches to prove themselves and earn a spot in the quarter-finals. They are now five points behind Al Hilal of Sudan in second place.

In Group A, defending champions Wydad Athletic Club beat Angola’s Petro de Luanda 2-0 at home, reinforcing their top position. JS Kabylie, initially in third place, moved to second place after thrashing AS Vita Club of DRC 2-1 in Algiers.

More action is expected next weekend, with 16 teams playing on Friday and Saturday in the 5th group match. Final group matches are to be played by the end of March.