2019 Africa Cup of Nations, Uganda 0-1 Senegal: 4 Talking Points from the game
Senegal and Uganda battled it out for a spot in the quarterfinals of the ongoing African Cup of Nations at the Al-Salam Stadium in Cairo.
Earlier in the day, an unheralded Benin Republic had pulled off one of the shocks of the tournament when they eliminated pre-tournament favourites and 4th highest ranked team in Africa: Morocco by defeating the Atlas Lions 4-1 on penalties. Looking at the shock, Senegal would have been wary heading into the clash.
However, there was to be no upset, as a goal from Sadio Mane in the 15th minute was enough for the Teranga Lions to book their spot in the Last Eight where they would face surprise packages in Benin Republic.
In what was a very physical matchup, Senegal ultimately triumphed and in this piece, we shall be highlighting four talking points from the Round of 16 fixture.
#4 Sadio Mane proves to be the difference maker
Heading into this tournament, there was no player from the African continent who outperformed Sadio Mane in the 2018/2019 season apart from Mo Salah, as the 26-year-old was an instrumental part of the Liverpool squad which pushed Manchester City all the way in the Premier League title race and triumphed on the continent for the sixth time.
In total, Mane scored 26 goals from 50 appearances in all competitions and formed a daunting partnership with Salah and Firmino as the focal point of The Reds’ attack.
Given his standing as one of the top players in the world, it served as a no-brainer that the former Salzburg man would be the one leading his nation’s charge on the continent.
Sadio Mane missed his side’s opening day victory against Tanzania due to a suspension incurred during the qualifiers but was toothless as Senegal fell to Algeria in their second group match.
He was the star of the show in their last match of the group stage, missing the first penalty before going on to score a brace (one of which was a penalty) as Senegal ran out 3-0 winners against Kenya to secure their spot in the round-of-16 as the second placed team in Group C.
Against Uganda, Mane was on hand to give his side the lead after converting a wonderful through ball by Niang M'baye despite being in an acute angle.
He had a chance to make it four goals from three matches after he showed great technique and quick feet to draw a foul from Denis Onyango in the penalty box, but he saw his resultant spot-kick well saved by the Ugandan goalkeeper.
If Senegal are to go all the way, they would rely heavily on Sadio Mane’s impact and while his penalty record so far at the tournament has been woeful, as he showed against Uganda, he still possesses the key to unlock any defence in the world.