AFCON: Sadio Mane secures late winner for Senegal in Group B opener

AFCON: Sadio Mane secures late winner for Senegal in Group B opener

Safiu Kehinde

Senegal’s national team had Sadio Mane to thank after the Liverpool star secured three points for the team through a late winner against Zimbabwe at the Group B opener.

The Lions of Teranga engaged in a fierce contest with The Warriors of Zimbabwe. Both teams were at arms length at first half. Zimbabwe’s first chance came in the seventh minute when Prince Dube launched attack at the Senegalese goalmouth. The striker, however, squandered his chance as his shot went off target.

Few minutes after, Senegal also had their first chance of the game through Keita Balde. Just like Prince Dube, the Cagliari winger’s attempt also went off target. Meanwhile, Senegal kept the pressure on which nearly paid off after Sadio Mane gave Zimbabwe a dose of reality. The Liverpool man drove forward, cutting through the opponent’s defense, but had his shot saved by goalkeeper Petros Mhari.

Following a goalless first half, both teams returned to the pitch in desperate search for goals. Senegalese defender Pape Abou Cisse came close to grab the opener at the 48th minute, but his header was far too wide. Six minutes after, Zimbabwe got the ball into an attacking position following a throw-in at Senegal’s half. Knowledge Musona smashed a shot on target, but his efforts could not get past Senegalese goalkeeper, Seny Dieng who stood in for Chelsea’s goalkeeper, Eduoard Mendy.

Despite Senegal’s dominating possession, they still could not break the deadlock at the Kouekong Stadium, Bafoussam. With ten minutes left before the final whistle, Zimbabwe surged forward in search for goal which they almost found. But Teenage Hadebe’s shot was saved by Seny Dieng.

Eventually, the tide fell in favour of Senegal at the final minutes of the extra time awarded. Zimbabwe’s midfielder, Kelvin Madzongwe, brought down a Senegalese player in the box 18, receiving a yellow card and costing his team a potential defeat as the referee pointed at the penalty spot. Sadio Mane took the responsibility and calmly finished off The Warriors of Zimbabwe with just seconds left before the final whistle.


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