The final of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations is almost here as the magnificent tournament finally draws to a close in Egypt, with Senegal and Algeria emerging as the two finalists.
The tournament has been one of unlikely heroes and late drama. Madagascar and Benin will be thrilled at their quarter-final runs, while Egypt, Morocco and holders Cameroon were surprise early casualties.
The final will be a historic night for both countries but potentially slightly more so for the dominant Senegal, who have conceded just one goal in the 2019 tournament so far, but have never won the competition previously.
Algeria, who provided some of the tournaments biggest drama as they squeaked past Nigeria and Ivory Coast, are looking for their first crown in almost 30 years, when they went all the way back in 1990 as the host nation.
Check out 90min's preview for Thursday's final below.
Where to Watch
|When is Kick Off?||Friday 19 July|
|What Time is Kick Off?||20:00 (BST)|
|Where is it Played?||Cairo International Stadium|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||Eurosport|
The only casualty for Alou Cisse's side is goalkeeper Edouard Mendy who suffered a fractured hand earlier in the tournament and remains out. SPAL keeper Alfred Gomis (man of the match in the semi-final win over Tunisia) is set to continue his role between the sticks.
The main question for Sengeal is who will partner Sadio Mane in attack, with Krepin Diatta, Keita Balde Diao and Ismaila Sarr all battling for the other wide spot.
Algeria too could name an unchanged lineup from the semi-finals if they wish, with no known fitness concerns.
|Senegal||Gomis; Gassama, Sabaly, Koulibaly, Kouyate; Sarr, Mane, Gueye, Ndiaye, Saviet; Niang|
|Algeria||Mbolhi; Zeffane, Bensebaini, Mandi, Benlamri; Mahrez, Belaili, Geudioura, Feghouli, Bennacer; Bounedjah|
Head to Head Record
Senegal and Algeria have faced each other 22 times and it's the Desert Foxes who have the superior record winning 13 and only losing four.
With four wins from their last five over Senegal, including the 1-0 win in the group stages, Djamel Belmadi's side may feel the more confident of the two going into the final.
In Group C back on 27 June, the Lions of Teranga were narrowly edged out as Algeria's Youcef Belaili scored the only goal of the game just after half-time.
While Belaili's strike was the only one Cisse's have conceded at the tournament this year, Senegal have never beaten Algeria at an AFCON in eight attempts.
Algeria look incredibly strong as they approach this final. Conceding only two goals throughout the whole tournament. However, with the quarters and semis proving particularly tough, the fatigue of an international tournament could be catching up on El Khadra.
Senegal also look in fine form defensively and haven't conceded in the knockout stages. As the highest world ranked country going into the tournament, they will know they have been playing well for a substantial period of time.
However, does form count for anything in the final of a major tournament? Or does it all fly out of the window as soon as the first whistle is blown?
|Senegal 2-0 Tanzania (23/06)||Algeria 2-0 Kenya (23/06)|
|Senegal 0-1 Algeria (27/06)||Senegal 0-1 Algeria (27/06)|
|Kenya 0-3 Senegal (01/07)||Tanzania 0-3 Algeria (01/07)|
|Uganda 0-1 Senegal (05/07)||Algeria 3-0 Guinea (07/07)|
|Senegal 1-0 Benin (10/07)||Ivory Coast 1-1 (3-4p) Algeria (11/07)|
|Senegal 1-0 (a.e.t) Tunisia (14/07)||Algeria 2-1 Nigeria (14/07)|
However, Senegal seem to be struggling to hit the net against the tougher opposition with players like Mbaye Diagne and, M'baye Nianga and Keita Bale Diao struggling to replicate their club form to ease the burden on Mane.
Algeria, meanwhile, can't stop scoring and lead the overall scoring charts this tournament. Napoli's Adam Ounas and Mahrez are both on three goals, while Balaili, Baghdad Bounedjah and Sofiane Feghouli have all chipped in and provide a threat that Kouilbaly and the Senegal backline will need to be at their best to prevent.
Algeria will likely want to open the game up a little more than the previous meeting between the two and will take confidence that they can, knowing they've already beaten Senegal once. If they can achieve this then they could be lifting the AFCON trophy on Friday night, but it is a risky tactic.
Prediction: Senegal 1-2 Algeria