Kenya 0-3 Senegal: 5 Talking Points | Africa Cup of Nations 2019
Senegal locked horns with Kenya knowing well that a victory would assure them of a place in the knockout stages and they seemed up for it right from the get-go. After being eliminated from the World Cup group stages based on fair play points, the Lions of Teranga seemed determined to put those woes behind them and went into the AFCON as strong favorites.
Despite losing 1-0 to Algeria in their previous Group C encounter, Aliou Cisse's men ensured qualification to the Round of 16 with relative ease as Kenya were no match for them on the day. Senegal dominated the game for large parts and although it looked like Sadio Mane's penalty miss in the first half could come back to haunt them, it wasn't to be the case as the Kenyans fell well short in the end, losing 0-3.
Senegal dominated the game from start to finish and finished second in Group C, 3 points behind Algeria. That said, let's look at some of the talking points from the game.
#1 Sadio Mane's influence
The 2018/19 season was one to remember for Sadio Mane. Fresh from achieving European glory and winning the Premier League golden boot with Liverpool, he was aiming for more success, this time with his country. He has never hidden his desperation of wanting to win an international trophy and also claimed earlier that he'd swap winning the Champions League with Liverpool for AFCON glory.
Whilst these claims raised a few eyebrows, one can understand the sentiment behind it. Senegal have never won a major international trophy and current manager Aliou Cisse was part of the nearly-men of 2002 who came agonizingly close to winning the AFCON, eventually losing out to Cameroon on penalties.
Having missed the first game through suspension, he was restored to the starting XI for the following encounter but was largely ineffective as Algeria ran out 1-0 winners. Against Kenya however, it was a different story altogether. Mane tormented the opposition defense from start to finish, playing a major part in all three goals.
His penalty miss in the first half didn't prove costly as he capitalized on some lazy defending to score his first goal and calmly slotted home another from the spot. In a crucial group stage encounter where Senegal could guarantee qualification with a victory, Mane led from the front and produced the goods when his side needed him the most, which was so often the case with Liverpool last season.