There’s sad news for Pape Sarr tonight, but pretty darned good news for Tottenham Hotspur in the African Cup of Nations. Ivory Coast, who barely qualified for the knockout stages, took AFCON favorites Senegal to the brink and beyond, knocking the Lions de la Téranga out of the competitions in a penalty shootout. The final score was Ivory Coast 1 (5) - (4) 1 Senegal.
Cote d’Ivoire, the host nation, only got into the knockout rounds by the skin of their teeth, qualifying as the last of the third placed teams. In the process, they fired their head coach despite staying in the competition, but they did just enough to send Senegal packing. Sarr, as expected, started the match and played all 120+ minutes, and also converted one of Senegal’s penalty kicks. Former Tottenham right back Serge Aurier served as the Ivorian captain and also converted a shootout PK.
There’s some irony in a former Tottenham player sending a current Tottenham player home from a tournament, but while I’m sad for Sarr that his AFCON dreams came up short, I’m certainly not sad about the fact that he’s returning to Spurs ahead of schedule. Tottenham could really use him in midfield right now.
I don’t think there’s any chance (or expectation) that Sarr would be back in London in time to play in Spurs’ match against Brentford on Wednesday, but I’d think he’d be in line to feature on Saturday’s match at Everton. Spurs could potentially get their other two players home as soon as tomorrow; Yves Bissouma and Mali face Burkina Faso in the Round of 16 on Tuesday, kickoff at noon ET / 5 p.m. GMT, while Son Heung-Min and Korea face a tough match against Saudi Arabia in the Asia Cup tomorrow, kickoff 11 a.m. ET / 4 p.m. GMT.