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Senegal, Morocco off to profitable begins at AFCON

Senegal, Morocco off to winning starts at AFCON
Former Southampton duo Sadio Mane and Sofiane Boufal each scored to present Africa Cup of Nations title contenders Senegal and Morocco profitable begins to their campaigns in Cameroon on Monday.

Mane, who switched to Liverpool in 2016 after two years with the Saints, netted a penalty seven minutes into added time to ship a lucky 1-0 Group B victory over Zimbabwe in Bafoussam.

Just a few hours later it was the flip of Boufal, now at French Ligue 1 Angers after 4 years with Southampton, to attain and earn Morocco a 1-0 Group C win over Ghana in Yaounde.

Gabon overcame the absence of captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to beat debutants Comoros 1-0 within the different sport within the part.

With Arsenal star Aubameyang sidelined after testing constructive for Covid-19, Aaron Boupendza slammed in from an acute angle on the quarter-hour to snap a five-game winless run on the event.

Guinea edged Malawi 1-0 by way of a Thirty fifth-minute aim from Issiaga Sylla they usually share first place in Group B with Senegal.

The outcomes maintained a run of one-goal victories in a event that lastly kicked off on Sunday after being postponed by a 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cameroon got here from behind within the event opener to beat Burkina Faso 2-1 and Cape Verde struggled to a 1-0 win over 10-man Ethiopia within the different Group A conflict.

On Tuesday, document seven-time champions Egypt confront three-time winners Nigeria within the northwestern metropolis of Garoua in what guarantees to be a spotlight of the 36-match first spherical.

Catastrophe struck gallant underdogs Zimbabwe when a shot hit the proper arm of Kelvin Madzongwe and Mane despatched Petros Mhari the incorrect manner with the penalty on 97 minutes to settle a lacklustre affair.

Whereas Senegal, searching for a primary title after twice ending runners-up, dominated possession, they hardly ever threatened to interrupt down a well-organised Zimbabwe defence.

“It was troublesome enjoying in such sizzling situations, and never having a chance to play any warm-up matches affected us,” mentioned Mane.

“We left it very late to attain, however a very powerful situation was to safe most factors and we achieved that. Now we should attempt to carry out higher towards Guinea.”

After a quiet begin, Mane burst between two defenders on 24 minutes solely to see his low shot, aimed on the far nook of the web, blocked by Mhari.

As half-time approached within the Cameroonian highlands, Mane turned supplier, establishing unmarked Idrissa Gueye, who was let down by his first contact as he ready to shoot.

Senegal survived a scare as full-time loomed with a Zimbabwe free-kick making a half likelihood earlier than the ball was grasped by goalkeeper Seny Dieng, deputising for Edouard Mendy, who’s recovering from Covid-19.

With a cagey affair between Morocco and Ghana seemingly heading for a goalless stalemate, Boufal turned within the goalmouth and fired a unfastened ball previous goalkeeper Joseph Wollacott on 83 minutes.

“It is an excellent victory,” mentioned Morocco boss Vahid Halilhodzic.

“I advised the gamers I used to be happy with them. We had plenty of issues. We have been lacking 4 or 5 gamers in assault and I used to be compelled to make use of some boys who have been enjoying within the Cup of Nations for the primary time.”

After a cagey, foul-riddled begin at a 42,500-seat stadium named after former Cameroon president Ahmadou Ahidjo, Thomas Partey got here shut on 32 minutes for Ghana together with his free-kick going simply over the crossbar.

That was a sign for each groups to point out extra urgency and Morocco captain Romain Saiss received his head to a free-kick in a crowded goalmouth solely to see it fly over.

Simply earlier than half-time when a solo run by Joseph Paintsil provided Ghana hope of a aim, however his end was embarrassing, sending his shot effectively large.

Paintsil threatened once more early within the second half with a prolonged dribble solely to move poorly on the sting of the field.

Paintsil fired goalwards with 18 minutes remaining solely to be denied by an excellent one-hand save from Yassine Bounou.

“It was a tricky sport towards among the finest groups in CAN. I believe Morocco have been a bit fortunate,” mentioned Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac.