Sadio Mane scored a hat-trick as Senegal made a good beginning to defend their Africa Cup of Nations crown with a 3-1 home triumph over Benin on Saturday in their most memorable qualifier for the next finals in 2023.
Mane, whose club future is in uncertainty after he proposed to the media on Friday he may be leaving Liverpool, got two penalties in his hat-trick as Senegal easily took care of their guests in the Group L match.
The three goals scored implies Mane is now Senegal’s all-time top scorer, with his 32 goals overshadowing the mark of fomer Wigan Athletic forward Henri Camara.
Mane led Senegal to a comfortable success, made more straightforward when Benin had Sessi d’Almeida sent off early in the final half.
Mali whipped Congo 4-0 in Bamako in a triumphant debut for new coach Eric Sekou Chelle while Algeria, Gambia and Mauritania were also winners on a bustling Saturday program of qualifiers for the next finals in the Ivory Coast.
Algeria won 2-0 at home against Uganda with a random goal off the chest of fullback Aissa Mandi that was followed by a mazy individual exertion from Youcef Belaili for the second.
El Bilal Toure scored two times for Mali, who barely passed up World Cup capability in March, as they assumed early control over Group G, joining Gambia on three points.
Belgian-based Abdoulie Jallow scored the game’s only goal as Gambia, an unexpected quarterfinalist at the finals in Cameroon recently, beat South Sudan 1-0 in the other group game.
Striker Aboubakar Kamara scored two times for Mauritania as they won 3-0 at home to Sudan in Group I.
Namibia’s Peter Shalulile scored an early goal against Burundi yet they surrendered a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw while Tanzania removed a first-minute lead against Niger but also ended up sharing the points in a 1-1 draw.