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Senegal won their very first Africa Cup of Nations title on February 6 in Yaoundé, Cameroon, defeating seven-time winners Egypt. Aside from photos of the rejoicing Senegalese players, another image made the rounds on social media: it featured the Egyptian goalkeeper’s water bottle, which he looked at and carefully hid in a towel before each shot on goal during the final penalty shootout. The bottle, covered with information about Senegal’s shooters, was found on the edge of the pitch after the match and quickly went viral.
Published over and over again, a 26-second video showing the water bottle has garnered millions of views. It shows a plastic bottle covered with bits of paper, each one with the name of a Senegalese player and a diagram to indicate the location in the goal where the player is likely to aim. Mohamed Abou Gabal, known as Gabaski, Egypt’s goalkeeper, took a close look at the bottle before each penalty kick taken by the Senegalese team.
Egypt goalkeeper Gabaski forgot his bottle after the defeat. Info on Senegal’s penalty takers.
This should go straight to CAF Museum if they have. pic.twitter.com/e1LMbZPTUm
— Saddick Adams (@SaddickAdams) February 7, 2022
Gabaski started the Africa Cup of Nations as a substitute goalkeeper and became a starter after Mohamed El Shenawy was injured. Gabaski gained renown in this year’s competition, saving several penalty kicks in matches with Ivory Coast and Cameroon. In the final, he looked set to continue making history when he saved a penalty from Senegal’s captain Sadio Mané in the seventh minute, keeping the game at a stalemate. When it came down to the final penalty shootout, Gabaski saved another goal, but was unable to keep Senegal from winning the cup.
It is not uncommon for goalkeepers to use cheat sheets to keep track of opposing penalty takers, either on a bottle or on their gloves.