Senegal seal top spot in Afcon despite draw with Malawi

Competition heavyweights safely through to knockout stages despite scoring only one goal in group stage

Malawi's Gabadinho Mhango, left, under pressure from Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly during the Africa Cup of Nations match in Bafoussam, on Tuesday, January 18, 2022. AFP
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Africa Cup of Nations heavyweights Senegal failed to fire again in a goalless draw with unfancied Malawi on Tuesday but still finished top of Group B.

Senegal won the group with five points, despite scoring only once in their three matches via a late Sadio Mane penalty against Zimbabwe in their opening game.

Malawi and Guinea both finished with four points but the latter took second spot on the head-to-head rule, while the Malawians must now wait to see if they are one of the four best third-placed teams, who also advance to the next round.

Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly and Idrissa Gueye were all back for Senegal. Chelsea goalkeeper Mendy and Napoli defender Koulibaly missed the first two matches and Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Gueye the second due to positive coronavirus tests.

Habib Diallo and Mane went close for Senegal at the Kouekong Stadium in Bafoussam, while Malawi had the award of a penalty overturned following a VAR review.

Malawi were left fuming when Cameroon referee Blaise Ngwa initially pointed to the spot as Gomezgani Chirwa was brought down in the box by defender Bouna Sarr.

But the decision was overturned, though Senegal can regard themselves as fortunate as there appeared to be both a pull of the shirt and contact.

Already-eliminated Zimbabwe upset Guinea with a 2-1 win in Yaounde. Captain Knowledge Musona and Kudakwashe Mahachi both scored in the first half to earn Zimbabwe a farewell win after losing their opening two matches as they finished last in the group.

Naby Keita pulled a goal back for Guinea early in the second half, but they could not find an equaliser. The Liverpool midfielder was cautioned late in the game for dissent and, in a further blow for Guinea, he will miss their next game in the knockout phase.

Updated: January 18, 2022, 6:23 PM