The third-place playoff at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon has been brought forward from Sunday to Saturday, organisers have confirmed.
The fixture will remain at Yaounde’s Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium, with no explanation given by the local organising committee for the switch, though the decision was made “after discussions with the Government of Cameroon”, according to a statement.
The final will be staged at the Olembe Stadium, also in Yaounde, on Sunday, and having to split security resources between two different venues for matches hours apart may have been a factor in the decision.
The Olembe Stadium was the scene of a deadly crush that left eight people dead and 38 injured before Cameroon’s round of 16 game against Comoros Islands on January 24.
It will mean a short turnaround for the loser of Thursday night’s semi-final between the hosts and Egypt. The first semi-final match is on Wednesday evening as Senegal take on Burkina Faso.
Meanwhile, Senegal’s experience of playing in the last Africa Cup of Nations final will be a “good asset” for them in Sunday’s title decider, said forward Sadio Mane.
Senegal, who beat Burkina Faso 3-1 on Wednesday to reach the final, have yet to win the continental title but came close in Cairo in 2019.
“Experience is a good asset,” said Mane, who scored Senegal’s third on Wednesday.
“I think that has always been the case since the start of this tournament. We suffered so much with a lot of COVID-19 cases and several injuries too.
“We had a very difficult time but with our experience we kept calm until we recovered the whole group.
“We played a final last time, so we have experience and we will try to win this trophy.”
Senegal were also runners-up in 2002, the year they went to the World Cup in Japan and South Korea and beat holders France in the opening game and became just the second African country to reach the quarter-finals.
The comparisons between that generation and the current side have increased as Senegal progressed through the tournament.
“There are a lot of leaders in this team because we have a lot of great players and a lot of mature players. Everyone is making a contribution so that the team can move forward,” added Mane.
Senegal will play either Cameroon or Egypt in Sunday’s final at the Olembe Stadium in Yaounde. The second semi-final is later on Thursday.