Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Sudan impress in CAN qualifiers

Friday November 15 2019

tackle

Senegals Idrissa Gana Gueye (Left) vies for the ball with Loussoukou Ngouala of Congo Brazaville at the Lat-Dior stadium in Thies, Senegal on November 13, 2019 during a qualifying match for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Senegal won 2-0 as Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Nigeria and Sudan also bagged three points in their first round matches. PHOTO | SEYLLOU | AFP 

By AFP

Egyptian and Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah will not play for Egypt against Kenya on Thursday in 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying because of a lingering ankle injury.

The 27-year-old forward was hurt against Leicester City last month and despite making several subsequent appearances for Liverpool, is suffering from slight discomfort in his left ankle.

Egyptian media reported that the national squad medical staff ruled ruled him out of the Group G clash at the 87,000-capacity Borg el Arab Stadium in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

He will also miss the away fixture against the Comoros in Moroni next Monday.

Mo Salah, Senegal's Sadio Mane and Brazilian Roberto Firmino formed a formidable strike force for Liverpool as they won the European Champions League in May, before storming the English Premier League this year in blistering form that has perched them eight points above the nearest challenger, 2017 winners Leicester City.

On Wednesday night, however, Mane failed to score as Senegal cruised to a 2-0 win over Congo Brazzaville as the qualifiers kicked off.

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Sidy Sarr and Habibou Diallo netted within three minutes during the first half in Thies near Dakar to ensure the Teranga Lions collected maximum points.

Senegal finished runners-up to Algeria in the 2019 Cup of Nations, the second time they collected silver medals in a biennial competition they have never won.

But they are expected to win Group I, where Guinea-Bissau overcame eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) 3-0 in the other fixture.

Nigeria, third at the recent Cup of Nations, fought back to defeat Benin 2-1 in southeastern city Uyo with Samuel Kalu scoring the second half match-winner.

Veteran Stephane Sessegnon gave Benin an early lead they retained until the stroke of half-time when Victor Osimhen levelled by converting a penalty.

Benin eliminated highly-fancied Morocco at the last-16 stage of the Cup of Nations in Egypt last July and took Senegal to the wire before making a quarter-finals exit.

In the other Group L match, Jane Thabantso netted in the final minute to earn Lesotho a 1-1 draw away to Sierra Leone, who had taken a 72nd-minute lead through Kwame Quee in Freetown.

Hosts

Cameroon, automatic 2021 tournament participants as hosts, are taking part to get competitive match practice but began disappointingly with a barren draw at home to Cape Verde in Group F.

The Indomitable Lions went to Egypt this year as defending champions, but managed only one win in four matches and were eliminated by Nigeria in the round of 16.

That unexpectedly early exit cost coach and former Dutch star Clarence Seedorf his job with Portuguese Toni Conceicao taking his place, assisted by Francois Omam-Biyik.

Porto forward Vincent Aboubakar was recalled to bolster the attack, but Cape Verde held firm in Yaounde for a precious point.

With Cameroon guaranteed one of the two qualifying places, Cape Verde will battle with Mozambique and Rwanda for the other slot.

The shock among the first 11 qualifiers of 144 was the Gambia coming from behind to win a Group D match 3-1 in Angola.

After Wilson Eduardo put the Angolans ahead in the third minute in Luanda, Switzerland-based Assan Ceesay netted twice within 60 seconds midway through the opening half to turn the tide.

Another Europe-based professional, Sulayman Marreh, got a third goal one minute from time as the Gambia avenged home and away 2022 World Cup qualifying losses to Angola two months ago.

The widest winning margin was achieved by Sudan, who walloped Group C outsiders Sao Tome e Principe 4-0 in Khartoum, where the losers were reduced to 10 men by a 22nd-minute red card.

Defending champions Algeria debut Thursday at home to Zambia and will be defending a 16-match unbeaten record since losing a 2019 Cup of Nations qualifier in Benin.

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