African octet celebrate French Cup success with Rennes


Rennes’ Malian defender Hamari Traore celebrates with the trophy

Eight African stars are celebrating 2019 French Cup success with Rennes after the club stunned Paris St-Germain to win the final on Saturday.

Hamari Traore (Mali), Abdoulaye Diallo, M’baye Niang and Ismaila Sarr (Senegal), Edson Mexer (Mozambique), Ramy Bensebaini and Mehdi Zeffane (Algeria) and Souleyman Doumbia (Ivory Coast) all played a part in the run.

Traore, Niang, Sarr, Bensebaini and Mexer starred as Rennes edged their illustrious rivals 6-5 on penalties to win their first French Cup since 1971.

“To win your first professional trophy against PSG at the Stade de France is a dream come true,” Mali star Traore told BBC Sport.

“It’s unbelievable, but we deserve this after all the hard work and dedication from everyone connected to Stade Rennes.”

Senegalese players Abdoulaye Diallo, Ismaila Sarr and MBaye Niang of Rennes celebrate the French Cup victory

Ligue 1 champions PSG, who had won the cup for the past four years, led 2-0 through a Dani Alves volley and chip from Neymar.

But the game was turned around when Presnel Kimpembe deflected Traore’s teasing cross into his own net and Mexer’s powerful header made it 2-2.

PSG’s Kylian Mbappe was sent off for a bad foul in extra time before a tense shoot-out in the French capital.

Sarr converted to make it 6-5, but Christopher Nkunku smashed a dreadful kick over the bar as Rennes won the cup for the third time in their history.

“As a team we went into the game believing and even after conceding twice, we didn’t drop our heads,” said Mexer.

“This is great, a special achievement and we can’t wait to celebrate with our fans at home.”

Rennes’ Mozambican defender Mexer celebrates after scoring a goal during the French Cup final

Senegal’s 2018 World Cup star Niang, who is on a season-long loan from Italian club Torino, joined Sarr and Bensebaini in converting his spot-kick.

And the former Watford and AC Milan striker took to social media to celebrate his first title in French football alongside compatriots Sarr and goalkeeper Diallo.

“To our fans this title is for you. Proud of this team and the city, thanks for the support as we celebrate today,” Niang wrote.