19, January 2022
Senegal was held 0-0 by Malawi in another African Cup of Nations shock on Tuesday, though the Senegalese still squeezed through to the knockout stages. Zimbabwe, which had already been eliminated, provided a double surprise by upsetting Guinea 2-1 in the other Group B game.
Despite the loss, Guinea also advanced behind group winner Senegal as those two teams took the automatic qualifying places but not in the manner expected.
Senegal ended up winning just one of its three group games — its opener against Zimbabwe and only after Sadio Mané buried a 97th-minute penalty. That was Senegal’s only goal of the group stage. Africa’s top-ranked team also drew 0-0 with Guinea. On Tuesday, Senegal might have even lost after Malawi was awarded a late penalty when Bouna Sarr was whistled for pulling back Gomezgani Chirwa on the edge of the area. Referee Blaise Yuven Ngwa of Cameroon checked VAR and then changed his mind and canceled the penalty when it seemed Sarr had indeed impeded Chirwa.
Malawi still has a good chance of progressing to the knockout stages for the first time as one of the four best third-place teams. Senegal had a shot on goal after eight seconds and seemed set to overpower Malawi. It never happened. Mané chipped over the crossbar in the seventh minute and substitute Famara Diedhiou spurned a great chance late on when he chested down and volleyed straight at goalkeeper Charles Thomu. But Malawi was competitive throughout and seems likely to make it through to the last 16 in only its third African Cup appearance.
Guinea was 2-0 down to Zimbabwe through Knowledge Musona’s header and Kudakwashe Mahachi’s goal just before halftime. Guinea captain Naby Keita revived his team with a run inside from the right wing and a left-footed rocket into the top corner. Guinea piled on the pressure but couldn’t break through again and Keita left the field shaking his head despite the Guineans qualifying for the last 16. The game was refereed by Salima Mukansanga, who became the first woman to take charge of an African Cup game. The Rwandan gave Keita a yellow card, his second of the group stage, meaning he’ll be suspended for Guinea’s last 16 game.
The African Cup has thrown up surprise after surprise in Cameroon as Tuesday witnessed four-time champion Ghana knocked out of the tournament by debutant Comoros.