How the Premier League players fared at the Africa Cup of Nations

Cameroon African Cup Soccer
(Image credit: Themba Hadebe)

Sadio Mane won the battle of the Liverpool forwards as Senegal beat Mohamed Salah’s Egypt to win the Africa Cup of Nations.

The pair were among eight Premier League players involved in the final and over 30 in the tournament, with Mane and his four colleagues bringing the bragging rights back to England.

Mane played all of Senegal’s campaign, bar 20 minutes after he at first controversially played on with a head injury against Cape Verde.

Sadio Mane, top left, celebrates Senegal's victory with Cheikhou Kouyate, centre, and other team-mates

Sadio Mane, top left, celebrates Senegal’s victory with Cheikhou Kouyate, centre, and other team-mates (Themba Hadebe/AP)

He scored in that last-16 tie as well as against Burkina Faso in the semi-final and Zimbabwe in Group B, adding two assists in a starring role. His penalty miss in the final sent the game to a shoot-out but he redeemed himself with the winning spot-kick.

Salah was ever-present for Egypt and while they scored only four goals as a team in 12 hours of football, he got two of those and set up another as well as scoring in the shoot-out win over the Ivory Coast.

Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita also scored in Guinea’s loss to Zimbabwe, one of his three appearances in Cameroon.

Watford players were also prominent, with Ismaila Sarr making his only start in the final having scored as a substitute against Equatorial Guinea and set up Mane against Burkina Faso, while William Troost-Ekong had an impressive tournament.

The Nigeria defender scored against Guinea-Bissau and was involved in two clean sheets – as was club-mate Adam Masina as he and Imran Louza helped Morocco to the last eight, with Wolves defender Romain Saiss also part of that run.

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Senegal’s solid defensive effort was built on a Premier League foundation, Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy keeping three clean sheets in five appearances while Crystal Palace’s Cheikhou Kouyate – who scored against Equatorial Guinea – and Leicester’s Nampalys Mendy anchored the midfield.

Aston Villa’s Bertrand Traore contributed a goal and two assists as Burkina Faso reached the semi-finals while Trezeguet played in all of Egypt’s games, albeit with only one start.

There were mixed fortunes for Arsenal players as Mohamed Elneny was a key part of Egypt’s run to the final, helping them to five clean sheets out of seven.

Mohamed Elneny celebrates Egypt's quarter-final win

Mohamed Elneny starred for Egypt (Sunday Alamba/AP)

Nicolas Pepe scored two goals and made another in four Ivory Coast appearances and Thomas Partey set up two of Ghana’s three goals in their shock group-stage exit.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, though, did not feature for Gabon before leaving the tournament for health reasons and then joining Barcelona on a free transfer. Omar Rekik, a member of the Gunners’ under-23 squad, played just nine minutes in two substitute appearances for Tunisia.

Manchester United youngster Hannibal Mejbri was also sparingly used by the Eagles of Carthage but Eric Bailly played three games for the Ivory Coast and contributed to two clean sheets – though his shoot-out miss against Egypt was costly.

Les Elephants also gave playing time to Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, who set up Sebastien Haller’s opener against Sierra Leone, and Burnley’s Maxwel Cornet, while Brighton and Southampton wingers Yves Bissouma and Moussa Djenepo exited at the same last-16 stage with Mali.

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Leicester midfielder Wilfred Ndidi contributed to Nigeria’s solid defensive record while Kelechi Iheanacho scored against Egypt and added an assist. Everton winger Alex Iwobi also played in all four of the Super Eagles’ games, with a brief cameo for Brentford’s Frank Onyeka.

There were group-stage exits for Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez and West Ham’s Said Benrahma with Algeria and Leicester defender Daniel Amartey, Palace forward Jordan Ayew and Baba Rahman, the full-back on loan from Chelsea to Reading, alongside Partey with Ghana.

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