Senegal humble Warriors

HARARE - Zimbabwe's chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Africa cup of Nations suffered a huge blow following last night’s 2-0 defeat to Senegal at the Stade de Franceville in Gabon.

The Lions of Teranga scored early on through the lively Sadio Mane after only nine minutes and Henri Saivet five minutes later.

Zimbabwe, who had held Algeria 2-2 in their opening match, now need to beat Tunisia in their final Group B game on Monday if they are to reach the last eight of the tournament.  

Senegal opened the crossing after a mistake by Matthew Rusike, who gave away possession in midfield and the Lions of Teranga broke with pace.

Idrissa Gana Gueye led the counter attack before releasing Balde Keita on the left and the Lazio forward sent in a teasing cross across the face of goal.

Warriors left back Onsimor Bhasera switched off for a second allowing Mane time to ghost in at the back post and score with an easy tap in.

It was a frantic opening by the Lions of Teranga, who were pressing high up the pitch and forcing the Warriors to make mistake after mistake.

Mane, Keita and Mame Diouf were troubling the Warriors rearguard in those opening minutes with their pace.   

Five minutes after taking the lead, the Lions of Teranga were 2-0 up when Saivet curled in a free kick which gave Tatenda Mkuruva no chance.

Once again, it was that man Keita, who had created the set piece opportunity when he ran at the Warriors defence menacingly as he charged towards goal.

In the end, Bhasera had no choice but to bring down outside the box the 21-year-old, who horned his skills at the famed Barcelona La Masia academy.

Saivet produced a moment of brilliance as his curling free kick sailed over the Warriors wall and past a diving Mkuruva.   

It was a depressing opening quarter of an hour for the Warriors, who failed to string up any meaningful passages of play.

Zimbabwe’s first attempt at goal arrived in the 18th minute when Khama Billiat tried to shoot from outside the box but his effort failed to trouble Senegal keeper Abdoulaye Diallo.      

At the start of the second half, Warriors coach Kalisto Pasuwa made a double substitution by bring in forwards Evans Rusike and Tendai Ndoro for the ineffective duo of Kuda Mahachi and Matthew Rusike.

But it was Senegal, who continued to press forward with Mane and Diouf forcing some good saves from Mkuruva.

At some times, it was a matter of Mkuruva against the entire Senegal frontline as the scores remained 2-0. 

If it wasn’t for the Dynamos goalkeeper, the Warriors would have lost by a wider margin.

Meanwhile, Tunisia bounced back in Group B when they beat Algeria 2-1 in their 2017 earlier kick off at Stade de Franceville last night.

Two goals courtesy of a penalty by Naim Sliti and an own goal from Algerian skipper Naim Mandii handed the Carthage Eagles the deserved win.

On the other hand, the Desert Foxes managed to bag a consolation strike through substitute Sofianne Hanni when he finished neatly in the box in injury time.

The victory elevates the Tunisians to the second spot in the group with three points after their 2-0 loss to Senegal in their opener.

Teams

Zimbabwe: Tatenda Mkuruva, Costa Nhamoinesu, Elisha Muroiwa, Onismor Bhasera, Hardlife Zvirekwi, Willard Katsande, Marvelous Nakamba, Kuda Mahachi (Tendai Ndoro 46min), Matthew Rusike (Evans Rusike 46min), Nyasha Mushekwi (Cuthbert Malajila 83min), Khama Billiat.

Senegal: Abdoulaye Diallo, Kara Mbodji, Kalidou Koulibaly, Cheikh Mbengue, Idrissa Gana Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyate (Cheikh Ndoye 85min), Mame Biram Diouf ( Moussa Sow 60min), Sadio Mane, Balde Diao Keita, Lamine Gassama, Henri Saivet     

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