Johannesburg - Bristol City forward Famara Diedhiou overshadowed Liverpool star
Sadio Mane on Sunday by scoring a hat-trick as Senegal crushed eSwatini
4-1 in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.
Mane failed to score in successive Group I matches spanning five
days, but it did not matter as the Teranga Lions also won comfortably
against Congo Brazzaville to top the table.
Diedhiou missed a penalty before claiming his treble in a
rain-interrupted matchday two clash in Manzini, where Badou Ndiaye was
the other Senegalese scorer.
The hat-trick hero played for six French clubs before moving to
Bristol two years ago and was the leading scorer for City last season
with 13 goals in all competitions.
He equalised for Senegal in a drawn friendly with Brazil in Singapore
last month, three years after scoring his only other international
goal, against Namibia.
Fganelo Mamba netted for eSwatini, formerly called Swaziland, when
they trailed by three goals and he was sent off three minutes later
after a second yellow card.
Senegal have six points, Congo and Guinea-Bissau three each and
pointless eSwatini appear out of the running for a top-two finish and
qualification for the 2021 tournament in Cameroon.
The Teranga Lions, whose stand-out players are Mane and Napoli
centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly, are seeking a first Cup of Nations title.
They lost the 2019 final to Algeria four months ago and also had to
settle for silver medals in a 2002 title decider won by Cameroon on
penalties in Bamako.
Meanwhile, Nigeria were another leading team to score four times in
southern Africa, coming from behind to triumph 4-2 over Lesotho in
Maseru with Victor Osimhen bagging a brace.
Masoabi Nkoto rattled the 2019 Cup of Nations bronze medallists with a
13th-minute goal before Alex Iwobi and Samuel Chikwueze struck to give
the visitors a 2-1 half-time advantage.
That lead stretched to three goals thanks to Osimhen before Chidozie Awaziem conceded a late own goal.
Apart from Senegal, Nigeria are the only country to collect a maximum
six points so far having also come from behind four days ago to edge
Benin in Uyo.
Benin, who stunned Morocco at the 2019 Cup of Nations before bowing
out to Senegal in the quarter-finals, lie second on three points thanks
to a 1-0 win over Sierra Leone in Porto-Novo.
Elsewhere, Cameroon got their first goal and first win in three
matches under new Portuguese coach Toni Conceicao to pip pointless
Rwanda 1-0 in Kigali and top Group F.
Nicholas Ngamaleu was the match-winner in central Africa, netting
after 71 minutes for the five-time African champions, whose most recent
title came two years ago.
Conceicao was hired after the sacking of coach and former Dutch star
Clarence Seedorf following the last-16 elimination of the defending
champions from the 2019 tournament.
Although guaranteed a 2021 finals place as hosts, Cameroon are
competing to gain competitive match practice, leaving rivals Cape Verde,
Mozambique and Rwanda to battle for one place.
Meanwhile, South Africa regained some pride after being well beaten in Ghana three days ago when they edged Sudan 1-0 in Soweto.
Bafana Bafana squandered several first-half chances before
France-based Lebogang Phiri broke the deadlock on the stroke of
Slick passing created an opening and when a cross rebounded off the
leg of a Sudanese defender, Phiri unleashed an unstoppable rising shot.
After firing four goals in midweek when they hammered Group C
outsiders Sao Tome e Principe, Sudan struggled to penetrate the South
African defence and had only one attempt on target.