Sadio Mane’s Senegal loses to Algeria at African Cup
Sadio Mane and Senegal were left beaten — and a bit bruised — by Algeria at the African Cup of Nations as one of the title favorites had a setback on Thursday.
Algeria won 1-0 thanks to Youcef Belaili’s goal early in the second half of the Group C game in Cairo. That put Algeria through to the last 16 with two wins from two games and left Senegal, the top-ranked team in Africa, with work to do.
Algeria’s physical style knocked Senegal off its stride as the Algerians dished out foul after foul and benefited from the leniency of referee Janny Sikazwe of Zambia.
Mane deserved a penalty for Senegal in the 72nd minute when he was hacked down by two defenders. Sikazwe didn’t award it despite Amir Bensebaini and Adlane Guedioura both fouling Mane. The incident happened right in front of the ref.
Mane dragged himself to his feet and just looked at Sikazwe.
Senegal plays Kenya in what’s now become a must-win last group game for the West Africans, who have never won the African Cup. The closest Senegal has come was losing the final in 2002. Senegal has played at 15 editions of the tournament without winning the top prize and many thought this might finally be the year.
Senegal beat Tanzania 2-0 in its opening game and started well against Algeria, with Mane racing down the left wing and sending in a dangerous cross in the second minute.
But Mane was locked out by Algeria’s defense after that and, apart from the penalty incident, his most meaningful contribution was heading just over the crossbar from a corner in the final act of the game.
The game was billed as a battle between two Premier League players, Liverpool’s Mane and Algeria captain Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City. Neither was prominent in temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius (95 Fahrenheit) in the Egyptian capital.
Belaili took his chance clinically in the 49th minute for the only goal. Sofiane Feghouli raced to the byline and cut a cross back to the top of the penalty area. Belaili took one touch to control the ball and hit a right-footed shot into the net through a group of defenders. Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy stood unmoved.
Senegal’s best chance of equalizing came with 10 minutes to go when Youssouf Sabaly’s powerful long-range shot was blocked by Algeria keeper Rais M’Bolhi. The rebound fell to Mbaye Diagne, whose header went wide with the goal at his mercy.
Madagascar beat Burundi 1-0 in the day’s first game, putting tournament debutant Madagascar on the brink of qualifying for the last 16 from Group B. Madagascar won it after Marco Ilaimaharita whipped a free kick into the top left corner from just outside the area.
The newcomer needs a draw against Nigeria to be sure of going through, or for Guinea to fail to beat Burundi. Madagascar could also qualify as one of the best third-place teams. This African Cup has been increased from 16 to 24 teams so the top two from each of the six groups progress and are joined by the four best third-place finishers.
Kenya also improved its prospects when it came back from 1-0 and 2-1 down to beat Tanzania 3-2 and eliminate its East African rival from the tournament.
Michael Olunga scored the first and last goals for Kenya. His first was a bicycle kick and the winner a low shot that went in off the post, settling an end-to-end battle and sending home the Tanzanians, who are coached by former Nigeria international Emmanuel Amunike.
The Kenya-Senegal game will decide who finishes in the top two places in the group with Algeria.