Midfielder Krepin Diatta’s screamer added on to Keita Balde’s first-half opener was enough as Senegal’s Teranga Lions began their hunt for a maiden Africa Cup of Nations title with a 2-0 win over Tanzania’s Taifa Stars at the June 30 Stadium in Cairo on Sunday night.
Senegal were without their star man Sadio Mane, who was suspended for the match.
The fixture started with both teams showing no signs of fear in making challenges and with much of the possession going to Senegal. M’baye Niang got involved early in the game without making the most of his chances.
The first main opportunity for Tanzania fell to Mudathiri Yahya. He tried his luck from distance but it did nothing to trouble Edouard Mendy.
Senegal attacked with purpose and found the breakthrough in the 28th minute. A beautiful team play ended with Gana setting up Keita Balde and the Inter Milan winger converted with aplomb from close range.
Ismaila Sarr did find the net for Senegal once again in the 33rd minute, only for their celebrations to be cut short by a handball call on Kouyate by the referee.
Senegal got another crack after Kalidou Koulibaly delivered a cross in unfamiliar territory into the box. Niang got his head unto it and watched as the ball sailed over the bar.
A swift counter-attack by the Lions of Teranga gave M’Baye Niang a golden opportunity to double the advantage three minutes before half time from close range but the tall striker guided his effort agonizingly wide.
The restart was largely the same as the first half with Senegal getting a hold of the ball and creating dangerous chances for Tanzania.
Sarr was left one on one with the Aishi Manula after the winning a duel but the goalkeeper was equal to it.
Senegal doubled their advantage in the 64th-minute courtesy Diatta, who latched onto a failed clearance and hit a fierce shot into the net.
The lead could have been three moments later after a brilliant counter-attack by Aliou Cisse’s side set up M’baye Niang but he once again failed to apply the finishing touch.
Aliou Cisse will be delighted with his team’s result and with Sadio Mane coming back for the next game, they will provide a bigger threat for other teams.
Follow all the tournament games with #JoyAFCON. There’s live radio commentary on Joy 99.7FM, post-match programs on Joy FM, JoyNews TV (available via MultiTV Digibox and on DStv channel 421), Joy Prime (on DStv 281), analysis shows, and fan zones. Follow complete social media coverage on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with @JoySportsGH.