Senegal reach AFCON quarter-finals after 11 years

Senegal’s Teranga Lions on Thursday became the first team to qualify for the knockout stage of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), their first since 2006.

The Lions secured a 2-0 win over Zimbabwe in their Group B Day Two clash in Franceville to stay top of the log with six points from two matches.

Sadio Mane and Henri Saivet each scored in the first half to ensure they maintain their status as the only side with a 100 per cent record so far.

It is the first time since 2006 that Senegal has gone past the group stage after disastrous outings is in 2008, 2012 and 2015.

Sadio Mane celebrating Senegal’s win over Zimbabwe at AFCON 2017

The West Africans were by far the better side though, clearly outplaying a Zimbabwean side which had shown so much promise in their opening match against Algeria last Sunday.

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It was a disappointing performance from the Southern Africans whose efforts were neutralised by the Senegalese in every department.

Right from the start, it was the Lions all the way firing from all cylinders and it was only a matter of time for the opening goal to come.

Barely four minutes into the game, pacy forward Keita Balde tested the Zimbabwean defence with a shot which missed narrowly.

The Senegal attack consisting of Balde, Mane and Mame Diouf were too tall a mountain for the Zimbabwean backline to handle.

They were largely aided by the midfield dominance of captain Cheikhou Kouyate and Idrisa Gueye.

On nine minutes, Mane tapped in a Keita shot at the far corner for the opening goal.

Saivet doubled the lead four minutes later with a spectacular free-kick just outside the penalty area that left Zimbabwe goalkeeper Tatenda Mkuruva with little to do.

The Lions continued to dominate possession with Balde and Diouf failing to increase the tally until half time.

It was no different in the second half as Senegal remained in control.

But erratic shooting by Balde and Mane coupled with some superb saves from Mkuruva ensured the scoreline ended with the two goals from the opening half.

Diouf missed a sitter just back from recess and minutes later, Mane saw his shot at goal cleared off the line by Zimbabwe defender Costa Nhamoinesu.

The Warriors best chance at goal was on 71 minutes when Nyasha Mushekwi unleashed a shot which Senegal goalkeeper Abdoulaye Diallo fisted to safety.

The final minutes belonged to the Lions, severally threatening the Zimbabwean rear but Balde and substitute Moussa Sow were denied by Mkuruva.

Senegal will meet Algeria in their last Group B match on Monday in Franceville, while Tunisia battle Zimbabwe in Libreville.

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