League of Ireland legend Joseph N’Do gave some insight into the bizarre decision by Egypt to have Mo Salah as their fifth penalty taker in the decisive shootout in the AFCON final.
Salah never had the chance to take his spot kick in the final, as his Liverpool teammate Sadio Mané slotted his effort home to earn Senegal their first ever AFCON title on Sunday evening.
Salah had scored the winning penalty in his side’s semi-final victory against Cameroon and opted for the same position in his team’s order for the final in Yaoundé.
Some were baffled by the decision to leave Egypt’s star striker in a position where he may not even get the opportunity to take a spot kick.
However, N’Do provided some context on why Egypt may have felt it was the right call.
N’Do, who won the competition twice with Cameroon, joined Joe on Monday’s Football Show. He explained the factors which may have presented this strategy as the strongest.
“The manager thought he had based everything around Salah. But with Salah on the pitch, you shouldn’t go to penalties - that’s not possible.”
“I think it was because it worked out so well against Cameroon. To be fair, the fifth penalty is always the hardest one.”
“The way we see it, it’s about who is going to take the penalties. But Egypt are seeing it as: how many penalties is our goalkeeper going to save?”
They are so confident with that goalkeeper that even when he is injured, he is playing.”
“For them, they think he is guaranteed to save two penalties.”
N'Do: "When you have the chance to crown your team, that’s a huge responsibility"
N’Do understands why such decision-making may seem so foreign to outsiders.
“The way we see football is so different to how the manager sees it - they are so far apart.”
“Sadio Mané was the same. The top players don’t think the goalkeeper is going to save all the penalties; they think: ‘He is going to save one, and I’m going to have to take the last one.’”
“To take the fifth penalty when your goalkeeper has saved one, and you have the chance to crown your team - that’s a huge responsibility.”
“I think that it worked out so well against Cameroon that it would be difficult to change it.”
When asked about where he would have positioned Salah in the order of penalty takers, N’Do’s response was simple.
“If I were in charge, we wouldn’t be going to penalties!”
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