Sadio Mané was able to help Senegal reach the Africa Cup of Nations last 16 in style after a comfortable 3-0 victory over Kenya. Kenyan coach Sebastien Migne ramped up the atmosphere before the match by claiming that Senegal did not have the mental strength required to progress in the competition, this confidence is the same as online blackjack games players should have. The predictions were coming true after Aliou Cisse saw his team put up a disappointing display in the first half.
After starting the tournament with a victory over Tanzania, Senegal’s aspiration of qualifying to the knockout stages were halted by the defeat against Algeria. However, this victory over Kenya, who were playing with 10 men for a sizeable portion of the match, has provided Senegal with a route to the last 16.
After picking up the Champions League with Liverpool in the summer, Mané has been one of the players to watch in this tournament. However, he missed a first-half penalty, which was saved by Patrick Matasi. The Guineans, though, were unable to prevent Ismaila Sarr from breaking the deadlock with a fine volley in the second half. Mané made up for his missed penalty in the first half by scoring shortly after the goal from Sarr. Mané later took his tally at the AFCON to two goals after converting a late penalty.
The loss against Algeria, though, means that Senegal have to settle for a place in the last 16 as the runner-up in the group. Senegal will be going up against Uganda in the last 16 on July 6. The match will be at the Cairo International Stadium. Meanwhile, Kenya are still hopeful of qualifying to the knockout stages as the best of the third-placed sides. This, however, depends on the results from the final games of groups E and F.
A major positive for Senegal was the return of Idrissa Gueye in the midfield. The Everton man was able to provide more balance to Senegal’s play in the second half. After starting out as one of the favourites to win the tournament, Senegal are aware that they need to improve a lot in order to stand a chance of success. The numerous sloppy mistakes made by Senegal in the group stages will not go unpunished in the knockouts.
Kenya may have come up with a lot of stubborn talk ahead of the match, but the team did not offer a lot in the game. Any competition from the opposition was effectively put to an end by the second-half penalty from Mané and the second yellow card for Otieno in the build-up to the penalty.
All is still not well within the Senegal camp, as manager Cisse claimed that he did not want Mané to take the second penalty – especially after having missed a penalty in the first half. The Lions of Teranga have to improve a lot more with their finishing skills after having converted only a handful of chances at goal. Despite having 52 shots – more than any other team – in the tournament, Senegal have only scored five goals.