Defending champions Senegal defeated Cameroon 3-1 on Friday to secure their spot in the AFCON 2023 round of 16, putting their opponents in jeopardy. Ismaila Sarr scored one goal and assisted on another.
Andre Onana of Manchester United, who was playing his first game of the tournament after arriving in the Ivory Coast late, made a mistake that allowed Sarr to open the scoring in the first half of the match in Yamoussoukro, capitalising on the mistake.
Before Jean-Charles Castelletto gave Cameroon a late consolation goal, Habib Diallo scored the second goal from Sarr’s cross. Senegal’s goal was completed in injury time by Sadio Mane.
With one game remaining in their group against Guinea, the Lions of Teranga have qualified for the knockout stages. The final game Cameroon has to play is against Gambia. They are both scheduled for Tuesday.
Senegal leads the pool after winning both of their matches, followed by Guinea and Cameroon with one point apiece and the Gambia, who have not yet won. Later on Friday, the final two teams will meet at the same location.
After a lacklustre performance that resulted in a 1-1 draw with Guinea in their opening game, Cameroon hardly put a test on Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy until the final ten minutes, when they had a chance to gain a point. This was concerning form for coach Rigobert Song.
He started Onana in place of the keeper, who will be annoyed with the way the first goal was given up, as the keeper skipped the Guinea match to play for Manchester United against Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League.
Onana attempted to punch away a cross on the sixteenth minute, but he was unable to achieve the necessary height or distance, and the ball dropped to the winger, whose deflected effort found the bottom corner. Sarr scored the goal.
When Sarr found himself in acres of open on the right side of the box, he took the pass and Diallo finished it with a low cross from four yards out.
After that goal, Cameroon appeared to come alive and managed to tie the score with a goal from a corner, headed in by Castelletto from a cross by Olivier Ntcham.
Georges-Kevin Nkoudou made a horrendous mistake at the back post, heading wide with the goalmouth open, and it could have been 2-2.
After Mane scored their third goal, Senegal went up the other end and secured the three points.