Joe Aribo showcases Rangers magic as Nigeria hero sets tongues wagging with AFCON touch of class
The Ibrox playmaker had AFCON viewers waxing lyrical about his performance in their win over Egypt.It was a cagey encounter between two of African football's biggest names as they slugged it out in the Group D opener.
Liverpool’s Sadio Mane left the pitch with a suspected concussion not long after scoring Senegal’s opener in their 2-0 Round of 16 victory over Cape Verde at AFCON 2021. © PA Images Sadio Mane of Senegal shoots at goal during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Afcon Finals Last 16 match between Senegal and Cape Verde in Bafoussam, Cameroon on 25 January 2022
Mane scored his goal with a lovely curling effort into the top corner after sweeping up following a corner, but only a few minutes before he suffered a nasty clash of heads with onrushing Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha – an incident that resulted in Senegal’s opponents being reduced to nine men with a second red card.
Africa Cup of Nations: is there a more disrespected tournament?
Africa Cup of Nations: is there a more disrespected tournament?There was “relief and atmosphere” as Cameroon started their campaign in style, said Jonathan Wilson in The Guardian. The tournament was two-and-a-half years later than planned, but “few in Yaoundé would be bothered by that”.
There was some debate on social media about whether the incident should have resulted in a sending off for the keeper, with card-happy refs something of a running theme of AFCON 2021, particularly in the knockout stages.
But there can be no doubt about the fact it was a serious impact for the pair, with serious questions to be asked about why Mane was allowed to continue playing for over 15 minutes after the clash.
Senegal needed their talisman to open the scoring, having struggled for goals at the tournament so far. The Liverpool star scored their only goal of the group stage with a 97th-minute penalty, which raises questions of their attack and creativity, after being talked up as one of the tournament favourites.
However, they have now kept four successive clean sheets, with Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy in goal and Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly proving influential in the heart of their defence.
Watch: Liverpool’s Mo Salah scores brilliant volley for Egypt at AFCON
A crucial match-winner for the Pharaohs.The Pharaohs began their campaign in underwhelming fashion, looking a little flat in attack as they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Nigeria, with the match ultimately settled by an excellent finish by Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho.
Mali or Equatorial Guinea await Senegal in the last eight, but it remains to be seen whether Mane will be available after the suspected concussion suffered. He was withdrawn in 70th minute after visibly looking dazed.
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