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Senegal squeeze through to knockout phase after draw with Malawi

The Teranga Lions of Senegal have qualified to the Round of 16 of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations after settling for a goalless draw against the Flames of Malawi in their last Group B match played at the Stade Omnisports de Bafoussam on Tuesday.

Africa’s number one ranked team have not yet come to the party in the tournament and we’re looking to stamp their authority.

Malawi were looking to cause an upset knowing that a win would guarantee a spot in the knock out stage of the competition.

Sadio Mane of Senegal controls possession as Stanley Sanudi of Malawi challenges during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Afcon Finals football match between Malawi and Senegal at Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam

It was Senegal who took the initiative to Malawi from kick off, Habib Diallo with an opening though his header from Bouna Sarr’s cross was wide off the mark.

Moments later, Sadio Mane missed a good chance to put his team in the lead but couldn’t keep his shot down from Bouna Sarr’s lovely cutback.

On the other hand, Gabadinho Mhango was looking dangerous as he began causing all sorts of problems for the Senegal defense. His best effort came from a set piece which he was unfortunate not to convert as it deflected wide of Mendy’s goal.

Malawi stood resolute in defense and starved the star studded Senegal attack of the ball in the closing stages of the first half.

It was 0-0 at half-time.

The Senegalese team stepped up at the start of the second period looking to take control of proceedings. Habib Diallo came close to scoring but Malawi keeper Charles Thom was quick to react and tip the ball over the bar.

Thom made another great save this time from Idrissa Gueye’s well taken free kick.

Gabadinho Hellings Mhango of Malawi is challenged by Abdou Lakhad Diallo of Senegal, Senegal captain Kalidou Koulibaly and Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Afcon Finals footb

Malawi had a penalty claim waved away by VAR check following an alleged infringement in the penalty area.

Neither side could eventually find the breakthrough as Senegal sail through to the Round of 16 winning the group with 5 points. Guinea despite their loss to Zimbabwe join Senegal in the knockout phase as runners up.

Charles Thom (Malawi), Man of the Match

“I am so delighted to have earned the man of the match award playing against an experienced side like Senegal.However I want to thank my team mates for the beautiful game we played collectively that enabled me to collect this prestigious award. We worked extra hard as a team and going forward feels so sweet “.

Marian Marinica (Assistant Coach, Malawi)

“It’s a tremendous achievement for Malawi to be able to get four points as we have been adapting a different system and the players managed to adapt and now we are on cloud nine. We played for the entire Malawi nation as the country has been experiencing problems like flooding and the good performance has given them a new spirit and encouragement. We have achieved our mission in the tournament despite myself and other players having suffered from Covid the team has been strong as we implemented our strategy against our tough opponents “.

Aliou Cisse (Coach, Senegal)

“I want to congratulate the players on the qualifications on the second round of matches .We got good challenge from Malawi but I am happy we came back strongly in the second round but failed to utilise our chances. We have lacked efficiency at the front but we want to ensure we have a different strategy going into the next round of matches as we hope for more goals. I said from the word go that we should be humble as a team and even though many people expect us to win by big margins we have played formidable teams and the most important fact is that we have qualified as the top team in the group”.

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