Busy Saturday headlined by wins for ‘big guns’

Busy Saturday headlined by wins for ‘big guns’
Gavin Kizito of Uganda challenges Youcef Belaili of Algeria on the attack during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying football match between Ageria and Uganda held at the 5 July 1962 Stadium in Algiers, Algeria on 4 June 2022 ©BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Sunday Jun 05, 2022. 00:03

A busy Saturday in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers was headlined by wins for ‘big guns’ Mali, Algeria and – most notably – Senegal, as the reigning continental kings were inspired to a 3-1 home win over Benin by a hat-trick from Ballon d’Or candidate Sadio Mane.

The Liverpool player struck two penalties to start and finish his treble of goals, as the Teranga Lions defeated 10-man Benin comfortably in Dakar to leap to the top of Group L.

The biggest win of the day came in Bamako, where hosts Mali crushed Group G rivals Congo 4-0 thanks to goals from El Bilal Toure (two), Mohamed Camara and Kalifa Coulibaly, while Algeria were too strong for Uganda in a Group F clash in Oran, as goals from Aissa Mandi and Youcef Belaili gave them a 2-0 triumph.

Mauritania also impressed with a 3-0 home win over Sudan in Nouakchott – thanks to goals from Aboubakar Kamara (two) and Abdallahi Mahmoud – and they were joined at the top of Group I by Gabon, who defeated DR Congo 1-0 away in Kinshasa in the late kick-off courtesy of a strike from Shavy Babicka.

The day’s action opened in Soweto, South Africa, where ‘hosts’ Namibia were held 1-1 by 10-man Burundi in the opening Group C clash. The Brave Warriors claimed an early lead through Peter Shalulile, but the Swallows struck back late on through Bonfils-Caleb Bimenyimana – who was then sent off for a second bookable offence.

More games played on neutral territory saw Gambia edge Group G rivals South Sudan 1-0 (thanks to a goal in injury time at the end of the first half from Ablie Jallow) in Thies, Senegal, while Niger and Tanzania shared the spoils in their Group F clash played in Cotonou, Benin, after strikes from Daniel Sosah and George Mpole respectively.

The AFCON qualification tournament continues with five matches on Sunday 5 June, headlined by Ghana’s visit to the Central African Republic and Egypt playing host to Guinea in the lone night match.

AFCON qualifiers results

Saturday 4 June

Group C: Namibia 1-1 Burundi

Group C: Cameroon v Kenya – Cancelled due to Kenya disqualification

Group F: Niger 1-1 Tanzania

Group F: Algeria 2-0 Uganda

Group G: Gambia 1-0 South Sudan

Group G: Mali 4-0 Congo

Group I: Mauritania 3-0 Sudan

Group I: DR Congo 0-1 Gabon

Group L: Senegal 3-1 Benin

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