He might have been the man behind the heartbreaking moment for Carthage Eagles in their 2019 AFCON appearance, yet he is still considered as one of Tunisia’s best performers of the campaign that saw them reaching the semifinal for the first time since they were crowned at home in 2004.
Ferjani Sassi scored the decisive penalty against Ghana in the Round of 16, and opened the scoring against Madagascar in the quarterfinal. He was expected to do the same when he took the ball to the spot fifteen minutes from time. But Senegal’s goalkeeper Alfred Gomis read his mind to deny him from giving Tunisia the lead. Senegal themselves missed a penalty before scoring in the extra-time to reach the final and send Carthage Eagles to a third place playoff date against Nigeria.
While having the support of his club side and domestic giants Zamalek supporters in Suez, Ismailia and Cairo during the tournament, Sassi would have dreamt of a better finish. Yet he admitted he was to blame for missing the golden penalty chance against Teranga Lions.
“I’m sad our campaign stopped here”, Sassi told reporters after the defeat to Senegal. “Luck was not on our side today. We missed many clear chances despite having our best game in the tournament. Even the game’s lone goal was one we scored in our own net”, he added.
“I want to apologize to our supporters for this defeat. I also apologize for the penalty miss”, concluded the 27 years old midfielder.
Playing in his third AFCON (after 2015 and 2017), Sassi started the campaign on bench after recovering from a pre-tournament injury that sidelined him for almost two months. He just played 22 minutes (against Angola) in the group stage, before playing the full 120 minutes in the Round of 16 win over Ghana, scoring the decisive penalty in the shootout. He went on to play for 83 minutes against Madagascar, scoring his first ever AFCON goal, and capping his performance on the day with the “Man of the Match” award.
Against Senegal he played 105 before being substituted as the second half of extra-time started.