Senegal are the only heavyweights to punch their full weight during the opening weekend of action at the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast. The Lions of Terranga brushed aside ten man Gambia 3-0 to send a stern message to rivals that they are not going to give up their crown without a fight. Upcoming midfielder Lamine Camara blasted home either side of the breather after Pape Gueye had tapped in Sadio Mane’s cross to put Aliou Cisse’s defending champions in charge of group C proceedings.
In the other group game, Cameroon fought back from a goal down to hold ten-man Guinea 1-1 to put themselves in contention ahead of Friday’s humdinger with Senegal. A Guinea side missing stars Serhou Guirassy and Naby Keita were in control after taking a first half lead courtesy of Mohamed Bayo only for stand in skipper Francois Kamano to receive his marching orders for dangerous play on the stroke of half time.
Record champions Egypt are among the favourites who find themselves under added pressure after they were held to a 2-2 draw by rank outsiders Mozambique in a group B game on Sunday. The seven time winners were within minutes of losing to a side ranked tens of places below them in Fifa rankings until they won a 97th minute penalty which was duly converted by Pharaohs skipper Mohamed Salah.
Four time tournament winners Ghana were meanwhile torpedoed 2-1 by Cape Verde in the other group B rubber. The Black Stars had levelled matters through 2022 Ghanaian footballer of the year Alexander Djiku only to suffer a sucker punch deep into injury time following a lapse in concentration. Chris Hughton’s side must now pick themselves up for a winner takes all collision against Egypt on Thursday.
AFCON action continues today with Burkina Faso aiming to take full advantage of Algeria’s 1-1 draw with Angola when they clash with Mauritania in a group D game. Djamel Belmadi’ Desert Fenecs are the group’s top seeds but they failed to press home their territorial advantage after taking the lead through Baghdad Bounedjah. Tuesday’s other games feature group E encounters. 2004 titlists Tunisia battle Namibia whereas Mali lock horns with 1996 champions South Africa.