- Algeria picks vital win against Uganda, Mali atomises Congo
- Mane show for Senegal, Kamara on a brace as Mauritania down Sudan in Nouakchott
Algeria, the 2019 African champions started off their campaign to qualify for the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations with an important 2-0 win at home against Uganda.
Algeria head coach Djamel Belmadi came into the match with a much changed team from the one that played in the qualifiers for the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup, but they had to contend with a tactically organized Ugandan side.
The Algerians were dangerous from the onset but struggled to break the Ugandan defense in the opening exchanges.
They were finally rewarded for their strong start in the 28th minute through Aissa Mandi who followed up a rebound after the Ugandan keeper saved a freekick from Youcef Belaïli.
Uganda were given a way back into the match when they were awarded a penalty just before halftime when Rachid Ghazal’s dangerous tackle put down a Ugandan striker.
However, Faruk Miya missed from the spot after goalkeeper Mustapha Zeghba went the right way to keep out the effort.
In the second half, the Algerians continued to play a high line of attack but were unable to add a second with Uganda defending well.
Les Fennecs had to wait until the 80th minute to put the game to safety with a second goal.
The impressive Belaili, dribbled past three players and struck a shot that left no chance for the Ugandan goalkeeper.
Mali 4-0 Congo
Mali cruised to an emphatic 4-0 victory over Congo in their opening 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at the Stade du 26 Mars in Bamako on Saturday.
France-based striker El Bilal Toure grabbed a brace to steer his country to the impressive showing during the Group G match in the capital city.
The Eagles completed the rout of the Red Devils in the first half as they thumped them to surpass Gambia standings in Group G.
The West African hit the ground running with midfielder Mohammed Camara opening the scoring before two strikes by El Bilal Toure and the final goal by Kalifa Coulibaly sealed the win.
Mali new coach Eric Sekou Chelle preferred Sweden based goalkeeper Ismael Diawara to operate between the sticks in only his second international appearance.
Young left-back Amadou Dante was handed his first ever senior debut whilst captain Hamari Traore returned to the team after missing the World Cup playoff in March due to suspension.
The Malien Eagles hit the ground running right after kick-off after getting the opening goal in the 1st minute through midfielder Mohammed Camara with a powerful drive.
Toure doubled the advantage for the home side ten minutes later after being set up by Yves Bissouma before adding another one in the 40th minute with a fine strike.
Kalifa Coulibaly got his name on the scoresheet after heading home a cross from midfielder Yves Bissouma to make it 4-0 before the break.
Congo couldn’t break down Mali’s defence in the second half despite their improved performance as they failed to register a single shot on target throughout the match.
Mane show for Senegal, Kamara on a brace as Mauritania down Sudan in Nouakchott
Sadio Mane stars as African champions Senegal down Benin in Diamniadio.
African champions Senegal proved their worth as they seek a return to defend their TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations title after a well worked 3-1 victory over Benin in their first match of the 2023 qualification.
Voted best player at the just concluded Cup of Nations in Cameroon, Sadio Mane was Senegal’s star man. Mane scored a hatrick, including two penalties to help Senegal to the important victory at home.
Mane broke the deadlock after 10 minutes when he converted from the penalty spot after a handball inside the box. The goal boosted Senegal’s confidence and Mane doubled the tally minutes later after a good combination with Pope Matar Sarr.
His initial shot was blocked but on the second bite of the cherry, he ensured he didn’t make a mistake.
The Beninese tried to get back into the game and had chances but Tidjani Anane and Steve Mounié saw their efforts stopped by Edouard Mendy.
Senegal continued to dominate in the second half. From a deep pass, Ismaila Sarr picked the ball inside the box but was hacked down by the Beninese goalkeeper. Mane stood over the spot kick and made no mistake.
Benin’s day went from bad to worse when a few minutes later, Sessi D’Almeida was red carded for stopping Mané as the last man in defense as he sped off towards goal.
Benin pulled one back with four minutes left When Junior Olaïtan found the back of the net. However, it only counted for consolation.
Gabon stun DR Congo in Kinshasa in Afcon qualifier
DR Congo succumbed to a disappointing 1-0 home defeat to Gabon to begin their journey to the 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations on a shaky note on Saturday.
Debutant Shavy Bebicka scored the only goal for the Panthers to seal the important away victory in Kinshasa.
The Leopards did all they could to at least claim a point against the Panthers but all efforts proved futile as they lost the Group I fixture.
DR Congo gaffer Hector Cuper went into the game with the best players he could assemble but still failed to start on a winning note.
Cuper’s start list against Gabon had Ben Malango Ngita, Jackson Muleka, Chadrack Akolo, Sammy Moutoussamy, Yoan Wissa amongst others .
Bebicka scored the only goal of the match to hand the maximum points to Patrice Neveu’s side who join Mauritania at the top of the group standings.
DR Congo continued with their dominance in the second half and created a lot of scoring opportunities but Jean-Noel Amonome made two fantastic saves to deny the Leopards.
The vital win is Gabon’s first away victory in a competitive since they beat South Sudan 1-0 in Juba in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on 16 October 2018.