Senegal head coach Aliou Cisse says his players should not rest on their laurels, despite picking a massive 5-1 home win against Mozambique on Friday in the qualifiers for the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations.
The defending champions were in roaring form, stinging the Mozambicans to earn their third successive win in Group L and move to nine points, a massive five ahead second placed Mozambique.
Senegal can comprehensively wrap up their ticket to defend their title in Ivory Coast with victory against the Mambas in next week’s return duel in Maputo.
“I am delighted because this is a match that we approached very well. We told the players to go at them from the first minute. However, the truth of the matter is tonight is not the same as the match we will play in four days’ time. In Maputo, the task will be difficult because it is not easy to win there,” the reigning African coach of the year stated.
At the Stade Me Abdoulaye Wade in Diamniadio, the Teranga Lions were roaring in fury and led 4-0 at the break. Sadio Mane, making a return to the national team after missing the World Cup with injury was among the goals with Youssouf Sabaly, Ilman Ndiaye and Boulaye Dia providing the other three.
Gildo VIlanculos grabbed one back at the start of the second half, but Senegal restored their four-goal cushion with an 89th minute goal from substitute Habibou Diallo.
Senegal were in a flying start and broke the deadlock after just nine minutes, Sabaly curling a brilliant left footer into the net after some good build up play. Five minutes later, he turned provider slashing a low cross that Mane tapped home from close range under pressure from a defender.
They were 3-0 up after 32 minutes, Ndiaye scoring with a brilliant volley after picking a cross from the left. Six minutes to the break, the tie was all sealed when Dia got the fourth goal when he rushed to the ball on the second bite of the cherry after his initial low shot was saved by the keeper.
In the second half, Mozambique came back strong and just three minutes on the turn they halved the deficit through Gildo’s diving header after the keeper had punched a ferocious freekick from Elias Pelembe.
The visitors momentarily pumped some pressure, but they fazed off with Senegal defending well. The home side wrapped up the victory in the 89th minute, Diallo heading home from a Bamba Dieng cross.
Egypt 2-0 Malawi
Elsewhere at the June 30 Stadium in Cairo, last year’s losing finalists Egypt were 2-0 winners over Malawi, skipper Mohamed Salah starring with a goal and an assist.
Coach Rui Vitoria was pleased with the result, but believes his side should have won with a bigger margin, on the balance of chances they got.
“We got many chances to score in the match, and we should have scored more and take advantage of our chances in front of goal. We had high possession of the ball in both halves and this is the identity I want to build for the Egyptian team,” said the tactician.
His opposite number, Mario Marinica of Malawi said his players gave too much respect to their hosts.
“Egypt is a big force but I think we gave them too much respect. We didn’t keep to our game plan in the first half. We had planned to pit pressure on them but we only did this in the second half. Egypt was the better team and a team with quality players like them, if you give them time and space they will punish you,” the tactician said.
Egypt got into the lead in the 20th minute, Salah smashing the ball home from inside the box off a move he initially started himself. He picked the ball to play out wide to Mohamed Mahmoud, the latter cutting back for the Liverpool star to finish.
Egypt dominated the game but had to wait till the stroke of halftime to add the second. Salah was the chief engineer once again, this time squaring the ball to Omar Marmoush whose shot on the half volley was deflected by Charles Petro and dinked over the keeper.
In the second half, Malawi tried to tighten their spaces, but couldn’t mount any attacks that would threaten the Egyptian backline.
With the win, Egypt go top of Group D with six points while Malawi remain third with three.
Elsewhere, Burkina Faso also retained their 100% record with a 1-0 victory at home over Togo. Substitute Abdoul Tapsoba scored the lone goal three minutes from time as the Burkinabe moved to nine points, five ahead of second placed Cape Verde, who earlier on drew 0-0 with eSwatini.
Burkina Faso coach Herbart Velud was delighted with the win, especially noting they were made to work by Togo. “Togo posed a lot of problems for us and we had to contend with a modest victory. We used our chance and hopefully we can review and improve on scoring more,” the coach said.
In Malabo, Saul Coco and Frederico Bikoro scored in either half as Equatorial Guinea beat Botswana 2-0 to move second in Group J with six points.
At the same time, Mali picked a 2-0 win over The Gambia at home. Goals in either extreme end of the match from Kamory Doumbia and Adama Traore gave the Malians victory. Doumbia scored after three minutes when he volleyed home from inside the box.
Traore scored from the spot after the Gambia keeper brought down Nene Dorgeles inside the box. Mali top Group G with nine points off three wins on the trot, six ahead of second placed South Sudan. Victory next week in Gaborone will confirm their place in Ivory Coast.
Meanwhile, Gambia, who reached the quarter finals of their debut appearance last year, have lost their second match in a row and are on three points, separated from the South Sudanese on goal difference.
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