Senegal 0-0 Guinea: AFCON favourites struggle again in drab Group B stalemate

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  • Sadio Mané
    Sadio Mané
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  • Édouard Mendy
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  • Kalidou Koulibaly
    Kalidou Koulibaly
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  • Idrissa Gueye
    Idrissa Gueye
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Frustration: Sadio Mane had a quiet afternoon for Senegal against Guinea at AFCON  (AP)
Frustration: Sadio Mane had a quiet afternoon for Senegal against Guinea at AFCON (AP)

Senegal’s underwhelming start to the Africa Cup of Nations continued as they were held to a drab goalless draw by Guinea in Group B.

Led by Liverpool star Sadio Mane but without the likes of Edouard Mendy, Kalidou Koulibaly and Idrissa Gueye, the pre-tournament favourites were in the ascendancy for much of the second half after a poor opening period at Bafoussam’s Kouekong Stadium, but couldn’t find a way through as they missed the chance to seal their spot in the last 16 alongside hosts Cameroon.

It was another disappointing afternoon for Aliou Cisse’s Covid-affected side, losing 2019 AFCON finalists and Africa’s highest-ranked team, who only squeezed past Zimbabwe in their opener on Monday courtesy of Mane’s 97th-minute penalty.

Guinea started Friday’s West Africa derby much the stronger, with left-back Issiaga Sylla - who scored the winning goal against Malawi earlier this week - the danger man as he needed no second invitation to spring forward and Mane’s Liverpool team-mate Naby Keita also excelling.

However, chances were at a real premium, with the best falling to Morgan Guilavogui, who was denied by QPR goalkeeper Seny Dieng after being teed up by RB Leipzig starlet Ilaix Moriba following a swift Guinea counter-attack.

Senegal dominated for around 20 minutes after the interval, with Boulaye Dia just failing to connect with winger Bouna Sarr’s cross and Crystal Palace midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate stooping to head another free-kick well wide.

The best moment of the match from the Lions of Teranga came when an unmarked Abdou Diallo headed Saliou Ciss’ pinpoint centre on target, only for Guinea goalkeeper Aly Keita to tip the ball over the crossbar.

Sarr dragged a shot wide of the back post and Mamadou Loum curled his effort into the arms of Keita as Senegal pressed but could not break the deadlock.

A low-key contest then completely petered out into a tame tie that moved both teams onto four points and all but secured their places in the knockout rounds with a match to spare.

The top two teams from each group plus the four best third-place finishers all make it through at this edition of AFCON. Group B rivals Zimbabwe and Malawi meet in Bafoussam later on Friday afternoon.

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