By Brian Mboh
Sadio Mane scored a last minute penalty, to give Senegal a one nil win over Zimbabwe in their opening match at the 33rd edition of the TotalErnegies African Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
The Liverpool star missed a golden opportunity in the first half, but was largely kept at arm’s length by a determine warrior side, who looked to have earned and unexpected point.
Mane sent the goalkeeper, the wrong way and drilled the penalty into the left-hand corner, after Senegal produced a misfiring first performance in Bafoussam for much of the game.
Senegal never looked like Africa’s top-ranked team, nor a team playing an opposition ranked 101 places below them.
But the chance for a winner finally came after Zimbabwe’s Kelvin Madzongwe was sanctioned for handball in the 4th minute of injury time.
With the Liverpool forward taking the captain armband in the absence of Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, who joined Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy on the sidelines after both tested positive for Covid-19. There was an increased pressure on his shoulders to sparkle in his side’s attack.
However, Zimbabwe were restricted to a handful of counter attacking chances and set-piece opportunities, the best of which came from captain Musona .
They had been under threat of expulsion before the tournament by FIFA, who warned of a ban after the Zimbabwe FA was disband by the government following accusations of fraud, but a deadline to reinstate the association’s executive has passed without any action.
In the other games, Morocco defeated Ghana by one goal to nil. Meanwhile, Gabon picked a one goal lead over Comoros . And the Senegalese head to head against Zimbabwe game, ended on a goal win from Coach Aliou Cissé and boys.
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