Liverpool risk damaging their long-term transfer policy if they offer Mohamed Salah a bumper new contract.

That is according to former Reds goalkeeper David James, who also told Stats Perform that the frustration of missing out on the World Cup is having a detrimental effect on Salah.

Salah is into the final 16 months of his existing deal at Anfield and is reportedly holding out for fresh terms that could make him the highest-paid player in the Premier League.

The 29-year-old has 28 goals in all competitions this season, a tally bettered only by Real Madrid's Karim Benzema (37) and Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (45) from Europe's top five leagues.

However, while Salah has once again proved his worth to Liverpool this campaign, James does not believe the club should bow to the Egypt forward's alleged wage demands.

"Quite simply, Liverpool won't offer him a contract that is wrong for them. As they say, no one is bigger than the club," James said.

"If he feels he could get more [money] elsewhere, and that's what he wants, then he'll have to go somewhere else.

"That would be the best business Liverpool can do with regards to sticking to whatever their policy is, rather than changing it to cater for an individual and upsetting the model."

 Amid the ongoing questions over his future, Salah's form has dropped in recent weeks, the former Chelsea attacker having scored in just one of his last seven club games.

That coincides with double heartbreak at international level for Salah, with Egypt losing to Senegal in the Africa Cup of Nations final and last month's World Cup play-off.

Indeed, since returning from AFCON duty in February, Salah has averaged fewer goals (0.66 compared to 0.81) and fewer assists (0.16 compared to 0.45) per 90 minutes.

He is also creating fewer chances (1.97 compared to 2.07), all of which James puts down to Egypt's recent woes.

"There's been frustration because he's trying to score goals, rather than trying harder for the team," James added. "What I'd seen this season up to AFCON was Mo helping out.

"It was perfect harmony. But all of a sudden it was almost like 'I'm going away for a month, let me try and get my goals now because I can't score them when I'm away."

"That sort of frustration is more detrimental to his performance. With the negative experiences of the AFCON and World Cup, you start asking 'Where's the desperation?'

"Is there a desperation to his performances to try to make up for those other losses?"

Salah's struggles in front of goal over the past month have coincided with Luis Diaz's instant impact since arriving from Porto in the January transfer window.

Diaz has three goals and one assist in 13 appearances, providing Jurgen Klopp with even more depth in the final third of the field, where they also have Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota.

But James says that should come as no surprise given the impressive work of Liverpool's scouting department in recent times.

"I have to say, I didn't know a lot about him until he was rumoured to be going to Tottenham, so I did my homework on him," James said of Diaz.

"I was amazed at what a player he was. I'd like to think any Premier League club who plays against Diaz will know exactly what they are coming up against.

"But we shouldn't be surprised. One of the most impressive things about Liverpool is that Diaz isn't an exception – there's also Diogo Jota, Thiago [Alcantara], and so on.

"Players come into the team and look as though they have been there for years. That's all part of the system and environment. When players get an opportunity they just fit in.

"That is credit to Liverpool, who have allowed Diaz to fit in and feel part of the team in a short period of time. It's like he's been there all season."

Chelsea and Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is relishing a huge week for the Stamford Bridge outfit, saying he will have time to celebrate his recent trophy wins at the end of the season.

Mendy has enjoyed another strong campaign, lifting the Club World Cup with Thomas Tuchel's team after starring in his nation's first major trophy success at the Africa Cup of Nations.

He kept four clean sheets and was named the tournament's best goalkeeper as Senegal lifted the trophy.

But with the London outfit facing a crucial week on two fronts, hosting Lille in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday before facing Liverpool in Sunday's EFL Cup final, the 29-year-old says he is simply taking each game as it comes without any time to celebrate just yet.

"A lot of good things have happened in the last weeks," Mendy said ahead of Chelsea's first-leg clash with Lille. "I am very happy and proud of my success with the national team and Chelsea.

"I don't have time to celebrate, because we have a lot of big games in the coming weeks, so I am just focused on the next game. I will have time to celebrate at the end of the season.

"It's an important week but like I said, when you play for Chelsea you play for this kind of week, with finals and big games.

"We just [have to] focus on ourselves and what we have done well this season. We don't need to do something new, just rely on our work and our game."

Mendy, who has kept nine clean sheets in 21 league appearances for Chelsea in the Premier League this season, was also keen to praise teammate Kepa Arrizabalaga, who deputised ably when he travelled to Africa.

"My relationship with Kepa is good since I came here, we have a good relationship on and off the pitch," he said.

"When you play for Chelsea, you have competition in every position, so you have to give your best and play at your highest level to be in the team at the weekend."

Mendy also warned of the challenge posed by Lille ahead of the Ligue 1 holders' trip to London, as Chelsea try to retain their Champions League title.

He added: "When it's the Champions League and this stage of the competition, there are no easy draws.

"Lille are a very good team. They've struggled a bit more this season in the league [sitting 11th in Ligue 1 after 25 games] but it's always difficult to be reigning champions.

"They will give everything to make it hard for us and get a result. It's up to us to be wary of that and play our best football."

Chelsea are the first Champions League holders to progress to the knockout stages without winning their group since Real Madrid in 2017-18, but the Spanish side did go on to retain their title that season.

Jurgen Klopp detailed Mohamed Salah's huge disappointment after returning to Liverpool following Egypt's Africa Cup of Nations final defeat, although the Reds manager hopes he and the team can "benefit" from that pain.

Salah and Egypt were beaten on penalties by Senegal in Sunday's AFCON decider, with Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mane scoring the winning spot-kick.

While Mane is yet to return amid Senegal's celebrations – granted additional time to "just enjoy it, enjoy themselves" and then "come back as early as possible", likely late on Wednesday – Salah has already rejoined Liverpool.

The superstar winger should be in line to face Leicester City in the Premier League on Thursday, although he is visibly hurting from his international heartbreak.

"He's very disappointed, obviously," boss Klopp said on Wednesday. "It was a massive thing.

"Losing a final is always really, really hard – we can sing that song – but losing the way they lost it is especially hard. That's what he felt, as well.

"He's happy to be back, but he's disappointed as well – massively so. We spoke obviously, about the tournament, everything, and he will deal with that of course.

"I hope today will be already better, but yesterday everybody could see he still has the final on his mind."

Asked how Salah might respond to the setback as Liverpool still pursue four titles, Klopp replied: "Greater determination than Mo already had? I'm not sure that's human.

"Playing a tournament, not knowing where you'll go to, then qualifying in the hardest possible manner for the final, then against the tournament favourites playing a game like Egypt played, an absolutely great final, if you think about what they all invested already before – both teams – and how hard they fought – especially Egypt, how hard they fought to keep a team like Senegal quiet – yes, that all helps in the long term.

"But I don't think there's a lot of space for more determination in Mo's mind. He is very determined.

"Using these kinds of things is the job for all of us when you lose a final – we are obviously the best example for that.

"When you lose a final, it's really hard, really, really hard. But when you use it for the next big game or next big tournament, then it can be at least helpful when it was still hard.

"He will benefit from it, we will benefit from it, but in which [way] exactly, we do not know."

With Salah in the squad and Mane soon to join him, Klopp is close to having a full complement of players to choose from – although he did add captain Jordan Henderson has a back problem.

Liverpool will be aiming to end a run of two straight league defeats to Leicester, last losing three in a row in this fixture in 1963. No team have beaten Klopp's Reds more often in the top flight during his tenure (four – tied with Manchester City).

Chelsea playmaker Hakim Ziyech has seemingly called time on his international career, saying he will not play for Morocco again.

Former Ajax star Ziyech has not played for his country since a friendly against Burkina Faso in July due to a reported falling out with head coach Vahid Halilhodzic.

Ziyech was not included in Morocco's squad for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Without him, Morocco progressed to the quarter-finals, but lost to eventual runners-up Egypt at that stage.

After Morocco's elimination from the tournament, Halilhodzic said that Ziyech would not be welcomed back into the fold "even if his name was Lionel Messi".

 

Ziyech, speaking to ADSports TV, has now had his say, and believes it is very clear he will not be featuring for Morocco again, at least while Halilhodzic remains in position.

"I understand them, but I will not return to the Moroccan national team and this is my final decision," Ziyech said.

"It's all clear for me how things are going over there and I am focusing on what I am doing and, right now, that is my club.

"At the end of the day, it's a decision he makes and you have to respect it. All the lying that comes with it, it's, for me, clear and I will not return to the national team.

"I understand and feel sorry for [the fans], but that's the situation we're in."

Halilhodzic has previously hit out at Ziyech's behaviour and attitude while on international duty, claims that the 28-year-old has refuted.

Senegal hero Sadio Mane has dedicated the side's Africa Cup of Nations triumph to Aliou Cisse who he labelled "the most criticized head coach I've ever seen in my life".

The Liverpool forward went from zero to hero when he netted the decisive spotkick as Senegal defeated Egypt 4-2 in a shootout following a 0-0 draw in Sunday's final where Mane missed a seventh-minute penalty.

Mane's penalty not only clinched Senegal's first-ever continental crown but it was a personal moment of redemption, having missed a decisive spotkick in the 2017 quarter-finals against Cameroon.

But the 29-year-old singled out head coach Cisse, who has 35 caps for Senegal before taking over as head coach in 2015, to dedicate the triumph.

"I know that the Senegalese people have suffered a lot but I dedicate this trophy to Aliou Cisse," Mane told reporters, having noted the criticism of the Lions of Teranga boss in the lead-up to the game. "If you knew what he did for the team."

Mane added: "When I missed the penalty first I thought of Aliou Cisse.. When I scored the last penalty, I immediately thought of Aliou Cisse."

Cisse, who was a runner-up at AFCON in 2002 during his playing days, praised the current generation headlined by Mane and Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy who saved Mohanad Lasheen's spotkick to set up his teammate's moment of glory.

"It really proves the mental strength of this generation," Cisse said. "We're African champions.

"It's been long, it's been hard, and there have been complicated moments, but we never gave up.

"This was a hard match too; we missed the penalty, and there were other chances we weren't able to take, but the boys never abandoned the task.

"We are very happy to dedicate the victory to the Senegalese people because from independence until now we have been chasing this first win in this competition."

Sadio Mane made up for an earlier penalty miss with the decisive spot-kick as Senegal claimed their first Africa Cup of Nations title with a 4-2 shoot-out win over Egypt.

The Lions of Teranga were beaten in the 2019 final by Algeria, but they belatedly got their hands on the trophy at Olembe Stadium on Sunday with a dramatic shoot-out victory after a largely dour goalless 120 minutes.

Mane saw an early penalty saved by Mohamed Abou Gabal and he was fortunate to still be on the pitch for the spot-kicks having avoided a second yellow card for a clear dive.

The Liverpool forward had the last laugh, though, powering low past Abou Gabal after Edouard Mendy had kept out Mohanad Lasheen's tepid effort from 12 yards to send the travelling Senegal fans into raptures.

 

Cameroon beat Burkina Faso on penalties to claim third place at the Africa Cup of Nations after recovering from three goals down at Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo.

The tournament hosts trailed to strikes from Steeve Yago and Djibril Ouattara, either side of an Andre Onana own goal, with 49 minutes played of Saturday's third-place play-off.

But Stephane Bahoken pulled one back and substitute Vincent Aboubakar scored twice in the space of two minutes late on to force penalties, which Cameroon edged 5-3.
 

????????

The Indomitable Lions with a MASSIVE comeback to clinch the bronze medal #TotalEnergiesAFCON2021 | #AFCON2021 | #TeamCameroon | @FecafootOfficie pic.twitter.com/Ihu951cZTL

— #TotalEnergiesAFCON2021(@CAF_Online) February 5, 2022 Cameroon made nine changes from their semi-final loss to Egypt and that told when Yago volleyed in from an Issa Kabore cross.

Onana, one of those to retain his place in the side, comically deflected Kabore's cross into his own net and Ouattara headed in a third for Burkina Faso early in the second half.

After Bahoken fired in from close range with 19 minutes to go, half-time substitute Aboubakar headed in a second Cameroon goal and then poked home a third moments later.

That led to a shoot-out and, after the first five penalties were converted, Onana denied Blati Toure to tee up Ambroise Oyongo to convert the winning kick for Cameroon.

The Africa Cup of Nations final on Sunday is the match that many observers had wished to see and that Jurgen Klopp had perhaps hoped to avoid.

Senegal, runners-up to Algeria two years ago, have the chance to get their hands on the trophy for the first time at Olembe Stadium. Standing in their way are Egypt, seeking a record-extending eighth African title and their first since 2010.

It will also be the much-anticipated meeting of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, the Liverpool stars looking to cement their status as the finest players from the continent.

Reds manager Klopp could be forgiven for wishing both teams had been knocked out sooner so he could have Mane and Salah back on Merseyside, but he described it as a "great achievement" to see both players competing for the trophy.

"Now it's obviously not so easy because one will definitely be really happy after and the other one much less so, but both have a good chance to achieve something really big," he said.

Salah did not need to take a penalty in the semi-final shoot-out with Cameroon, who beat them in their last final appearance in 2017, as the host nation missed three kicks in a row to send the Pharoahs through.

This will be a record-equalling ninth AFCON final for Egypt and their first meeting with Senegal in this competition since the 2006 semi-finals, which they won 2-1 en route to lifting the trophy. Overall, the head-to-head record stands at two wins each.

Yet Senegal have won 11 matches over the past three AFCON tournaments, more than any other team, and kept the most clean sheets (12) in that time. That form has continued in 2022: they have won four of their six games, scoring nine times and conceding just twice, hitting three in their quarter-final and semi-final wins while Egypt have needed extra time or penalties in three straight matches.

Mane's influence has helped them become clinical: at these finals, Senegal have scored nine goals from 81 attempts, a shot conversion rate bettered only by Cameroon (11 goals from 91 shots). Egypt, with four goals from 76 efforts, have the lowest conversion rate among any of the teams to reach the knockout phase.

Egypt coach Carlos Queiroz, however, is not feeling concerned.

"Words like fear have been erased from our dictionary," he said. "In our football dictionary, there is the word 'respect'. We have great respect for our opponents and their players, because they are performing well and scoring goals. But we are ready."

For Senegal counterpart Aliou Cisse, a losing finalist as a player and coach, his players' mental fortitude is the most important thing they have.

"We know it will be a very difficult final," he said. "I congratulate my players because we have come a long way. They had the right mentality. I can assure you that the best quality of a player in the national team is having the right mentality."


Players to watch

Senegal: Sadio Mane

With a goal and an assist in the semi-final win over Burkina Faso, Mane has been directly involved in nine (six scored, three assisted) of Senegal's past 14 goals at the AFCON. He will be looking to register a goal involvement in four consecutive matches in this competition for the first time.

The pressure is firmly on Mane to lead the top-ranked team in Africa to the trophy for the first time.

 

Egypt: Mohamed Salah

Salah has only scored twice at these finals, excluding the shoot-out win over Ivory Coast, but his influence extends beyond goals of his own: since his competition debut in January 2017, he has been directly involved in 68 shots at goal for Egypt (41 shots, 27 chances created). Only Tunisia's Wahbi Khazri (70 – 40 shots, 30 chances created) has been involved in more in this time.

"Salah is not only the best player in Egypt but a world-class player and his presence is a boost for the other members of the team," said Egypt assistant coach Diaa al-Sayed. "He is a guide and a leader. His presence is so crucial for us. He came here to win and we hope he will."

 

Egypt assistant coach Diaa al-Sayed has called for Sunday's Africa Cup of Nations final with Senegal to be delayed by a day to give his side more rest.

Record seven-time winners Egypt beat tournament hosts Cameroon 3-1 on penalties on Thursday after neither side could find a way through in 120 goalless minutes.

Carlos Queiroz's men have been taken to a shoot-out in two of their three knockout games, with the other going into extra-time. Senegal, on the other hand, have got the job done inside regulation time on each occasion.

And with Senegal having an extra 24 hours' rest between their semi-final win against Burkina Faso and Sunday's final in Yaounde, Al-Sayed wants the game moved to Monday.

"I ask CAF that the final be played on Monday," said Al-Sayed, who was speaking to reporters after Queiroz was sent off during the Cameroon clash.

"There is one more day of recovery for Senegal."

The third-place play-off between Cameroon and Burkina Faso was due to be played on Sunday, but it has been brought forward to Saturday following talks with local government, though no explanation has been given.

Al-Sayed added: "I hope that, as we have changed the date for the third game, we will now play [the final on] Monday."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is excited for either Sadio Mane or Mohamed Salah to "achieve something really big" after reaching the final of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Senegal and Egypt will face each other for the right to be crowned champions of Africa on Sunday at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde.

Mane scored the third goal in Senegal's 3-1 semi-final defeat of Burkina Faso to take his personal tally for the tournament to three, while Salah helped Egypt to a 3-1 penalties win over hosts Cameroon after a 0-0 draw on Thursday.

Klopp has previously been accused of disrespecting the AFCON on several occasions. In 2020, he called the tournament's move from June to January a "catastrophe", then, in November last year, he referred to it as a "little tournament" before claiming he meant the comment in an "ironic" manner.

Now, with two of his best players set to grace the final, Klopp is thrilled to see both with the chance to create history for their nations.

Asked if he had arranged something of a viewing party with the squad, Klopp said: "I have nothing planned yet.

"I didn't think about it, but we've followed it pretty closely. It's a great achievement for both. Naby [Keita] played exceptional in the tournament, too.

"So far it's been a really successful tournament for our boys. It's exciting, but not so easy because one will be really happy after, one much less so.

"Both have a good chance to achieve something really big."

Speaking to the media ahead of Sunday's FA Cup fourth-round clash with Cardiff City, attention soon turned to when Salah and Mane will be available for the Reds again.

Klopp thinks there is a chance both could be available for Thursday's Premier League visit of Leicester City, though he accepts whoever loses in Sunday's final has a better chance of that.

"I think they will be available but we will see," Klopp added. "If one wins they'll probably fly back to home country for a celebration, that's how it is.

"I think Tuesday or Wednesday [is the] latest the winner will be back, the other one slightly earlier.

"Then I have to talk to them. One thing is they have rhythm, played quite a few games, but I have to speak to them."

Mohamed Abou Gabal was the hero as Egypt reached the Africa Cup of Nations final at the expense of hosts Cameroon with a 3-1 success on penalties. 

After 120 minutes of scoreless action, goalkeeper Abou Gabal saved spot-kicks from Harold Moukoudi and James Lea Siliki before Clinton N'Jie completely missed the target. 

Egypt will take on Senegal in the showpiece on Sunday, though Carlos Queiroz will not be in the dugout after being sent off for two displays of dissent towards the end of normal time. 

In a low-tempo game littered with mistakes, the best chance of the first half came when Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui saw his header hit the post in the 18th minute. 

Mohamed Salah was presented with a glorious chance to open the scoring in the second half by a short back pass from Martin Hongla, but he was unable to round Andre Onana after the goalkeeper hared out of his box to intervene. 

Samuel Oum Gouet went close to scoring a goal of the tournament contender when his rasping 35-yard drive clipped the outside of the post, and Queiroz was sent off before the start of extra time. 

The additional 30 minutes were not enough to separate the sides, but Abou Gabal's heroics sent Egypt through to the final after they missed out on home soil in 2019. 

Cameroon captain Vincent Aboubakar has not been impressed by Mohamed Salah's displays and says the forward cannot consider himself on the same level as Kylian Mbappe.

Salah has scored two and set up another in five matches in Egypt's run to the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals, where hosts Cameroon await in Yaounde on Thursday.

The 29-year-old has also enjoyed another prolific campaign at club level, having scored 23 goals in 26 games for Liverpool in all competitions.

That compares to 19 goals in 29 matches for Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappe, who has made a slow start to 2022 with one goal in his first four appearances.

Indeed, Robert Lewandowski (34 in 28) and Karim Benzema (24 in 28) are the only players to outscore Salah among those from Europe's top five leagues this term.

However, speaking ahead of Thursday's meeting between Cameroon and Egypt, Aboubakar insists Salah is not currently on the same level as Mbappe.

"He is having a great season in the Premier League and is helping his country to advance in the competition. I wish him a lot of luck. May the best win," Aboubakar told RFI.

"He doesn't impress me much. I say it clearly because I'm an honest person and I have my way of seeing things.

"If he impressed me, I would say so. But he doesn't impress me much. He's a good player, he scores a lot but he doesn't produce a lot of stuff in the game.

"Of course, he's doing good stuff in the Premier League because he's been in a team that's been there for years. He's a good player but not at the level of some like Mbappe."

After scoring and assisting in the 2-1 quarter-final win against Morocco, Salah has been involved in 62 per cent of Egypt's AFCON goals since his competition debut in 2017 (8/13).

He trails Aboubakar in the race to be crowned the delayed 2021 edition's top scorer, though, with the Cameroon skipper leading the charts thanks to his six goals.

That is one goal more than team-mate Karl Toko Ekambi, with the pair responsible for all 11 of the hosts' goals up to this point.

Asked about his blossoming partnership with Toko Ekambi, Aboubakar said: "We are complementary to each other, but the most important thing is for the team to win.

"If me, Karl or any other player manages to score and Cameroon win, that's the most important thing. We must raise Cameroon to the top in this competition."

Senegal reached a second consecutive Africa Cup of Nations final as goals from Abdou Diallo, Idrissa Gueye and Sadio Mane secured a 3-1 win over Burkina Faso on Wednesday. 

Aliou Cisse's side were denied a first AFCON title by Algeria back in 2019, but they will have another chance to get their hands on the trophy against either Cameroon or Egypt in Sunday's decider after edging their semi-final.

Senegal thought they had been awarded a penalty deep into first-half stoppage, but the VAR came to Burkina Faso's rescue with referee Bamlak Tessema Weyesa overturning his initial decision after replays showed Gueye's shot had hit Edmond Tapsoba's stomach and not his hand.

The Lions of Teranga deservedly broke the deadlock in the 70th minute, however, when Paris Saint-Germain defender Diallo spun on the six-yard box and fired a crisp strike past substitute goalkeeper Sofiane Ouedraogo. 

And Senegal doubled their advantage six minutes later when Gueye slotted home from inside the penalty area after being teed up by Mane.

Ibrahim Toure pulled one back for Burkina Faso with an improvised finish with his knee in the 82nd minute, but Mane put the game to bed five minutes later with a sublime breakaway goal.

Two of African football's most renowned nations go up against each other in the second Africa Cup of Nations semi-final, with hosts Cameroon and Egypt set to clash.

This will be their 11th AFCON meeting, with no two teams facing each other more often in the competition's history, but there will be as much – if not more – attention on what occurs away from the pitch on Thursday.

It will be the first match to be played at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde since January 24, when eight people died and 38 were injured in a crush prior to Cameroon's defeat of Comoros.

Cameroon great Samuel Eto'o, now president of the nation's football federation, has already landed himself in hot water for appearing to attempt to motivate the Indomitable Lions by suggesting they need to approach the match like "a war".

Egypt coach Carlos Queiroz strongly voiced his disapproval during a news conference, saying: "It is a very bad message to the people of Cameroon. I think he forgot that Cameroonian people died at the stadium a couple of days ago. To make this declaration of war before a game, I think he has learned nothing from being in professional football."

On the pitch, the omens appear to be against Cameroon.

No team have got beyond the semi-finals as a host nation since Egypt in 2006, with the Pharaohs going on to win the tournament – they repeated the feat in each of the next two editions.

Nevertheless, Cameroon's own semi-final record is good, progressing from seven of their previous nine such matches.

Either way, a giant of African football will be eliminated on Thursday.

Player to watch: Moumi Ngamaleu (Cameroon)

Most eyes will be on Mohamed Salah and Vincent Aboubakar, given they have been involved in more AFCON goals (nine) since 2017 than any other player, but in Ngamaleu, Cameroon have one of this edition's most threatening players.

The Young Boys winger is a real live wire out wide, but he also has significant capabilities in terms of his service.

Ngamaleu's nine chances created are the joint-most in the Cameroon squad, and he ranks much higher than anyone else in the tournament for expected assists (2.25). That gives those nine key passes an xA average of 0.25, which again makes him the most consistently threatening creator in the competition (minimum four chances created).

 

Sadio Mane will be hoping to fire Senegal back into the Africa Cup of Nations final when they take on Burkina Faso in the semi-finals on Wednesday. 

Senegal's hopes of winning a first AFCON title were dashed by Algeria back in 2019 but they are looking to become the first team since Egypt in 2010 to reach successive finals – and this time they will be desperate to go one better and lift the trophy.

History appears to be in their favour too. That loss to Algeria is the Lions of Teranga's only defeat in their past six knockout games in the competition, and they have only conceded two goals in that span.  

Furthermore, they are unbeaten in their two previous AFCON meetings with Burkina Faso, though both of those came in the group stage. 

But Burkina Faso are no strangers to this stage of the competition. They have made the final four for the fourth time in their history and the third time in the past five editions – this despite not even qualifying for the 2019 tournament. 

Kamou Malo's team did well to upset Tunisia in the quarter-finals, though they will be without their goalscorer Dango Ouattara after his red card in the 82nd minute of their 1-0 victory. 

Malo said: "I think that at this level of competition, there are no limits. Don't worry, we all have the same goal, which is to win this trophy. 

"As for my desire to go all the way in this competition, yes, there is no doubt about that. We are ready to be extremely competitive to go to the end of this competition." 

Burkina Faso's hopes of pulling off another upset will rely heavily on keeping Mane at bay. 

The Liverpool star may have just two goals in Cameroon, but only Mohamed Salah (14), Sofiane Boufal (11) and Ibrahim Sangare (eight) have outdone his seven open-play key passes in the competition.

One to watch: Gustavo Sangare (Burkina Faso) 

With Ouattara absent due to suspension, Sangare will be expected to step up on the opposite wing. 

He has already been important for Burkina Faso, scoring the opening goal of the tournament in a 2-1 loss to hosts Cameroon in the group stage – no one in the squad has found the net on more than one occasion in the competition. 

But it is his ingenuity that the Stallions could use more than anything. Only Zakaria Sanogo and Blati Toure (four each) have created more chances from open play for Burkina Faso than Sangare's three, while the Quevilly winger has been involved in a team-high three goal-ending sequences. 

He has proven to be a real threat with the ball at his feet and could help thwart Senegal and send the underdogs into the showpiece. 

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