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Senegal dim Stars’ hopes of AFCON last 16

Senegal striker Sadio Mane celebrates one of his two goals against Harambee Stars during their Africa Cup of Nations Group C match in Cairo on July 1, 2019. PHOTO/CAF

CAIRO, Egypt – Jul 1 – Though not entirely over, Kenya’s hopes of making it into the second round at the 2019 African Cup of Nations were dimmed on Monday night after suffering a 3-0 loss at the hands of Senegal in their final Group C match at the Air Defense Forces Stadium in Cairo.

Sadio Mane scored a brace, one from the penalty spot after Ismaila Sarr had opened the scoring.

The loss sees Kenya remain third in the group with three points and their only hope of making it into the round of 16 is if results from Group E and F go in their favor and they remain ranked as one of the best four third placed teams.

Currently, Kenya is ranked fourth in that mini-table, just below South Africa on goal difference. Their hopes will be made clear on Tuesday night.

They hope that Mali and Tunisia beat Angola and Mauritania respectively in Group E as well as defending champions Cameroon and Ghana beating Benin and Guinea Bissau respectively.

Kenya midfielder Philemon Otieno (L) heads the ball next to Senegal’s forward Sadio Mane

Stars lost their heads in 13 minutes of the second half and allowed the Senegalese to score their three goals, one off an error from keeper Matasi who had been brilliant, one from Musa Mohammed and a rush tackle from Philemon Otieno on Sarr which led to a penalty and his red card.

In the 62nd minute, Matasi came off his line to pick out a cross and missed with Sarr picking the ball behind him, chesting it down and rifling it in with the keeper still on the ground.

Eight minutes later, Mohammed failed to control a long defended ball off a corner and Mane running behind him managed to pick the ball ahead of him and calmly beat an advancing Matasi who had earlier denied him from the penalty spot.

Otieno who had a solid first half then made a rush tackle to bring down Sarr inside the box, earning his second yellow and a penalty that was tucked in by Mane to wrap up the win by the Lions of Teranga.

Harambee Stars striker Michael Olunga goes up for an aerial challenge with Senegal’s Kalidou koulibaly during their Africa Cup of Nations Group C match in Cairo on July 1, 2019. PHOTO/CAF

Before those three goals, Stars had come very close but Dennis Odhiambo’s rifling volley destined for the top left corner was acrobatically saved by the Senegalese keeper.

Stars had started the game well with Olunga running into a back pass to the keeper but his effort from close range went over.

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Senegal grew into the game, but Kenya defended well with Matasi being fantastic between the sticks.

He saved his third penalty in four games after 28 minutes when Saliou Ciss came down under a challenge from Mohammed. Mane stepped forward to take the spot kick but Matasi came out top in the contest, leaping to his right to pick out the effort.

This was Matasi’s third save from four penalties he has faced in the last five games for Harambee Stars.

Harambee Stars utility Eric Ouma vies for the ball with Senegal’s Ismaila Sarr during their Africa Cup of Nations Group C match in Cairo on July 1, 2019. PHOTO/CAF

Just before the penalty, Matasi who turns out for Ethiopian giants St. George had made another brilliant block when he threw himself infront of Idrissa Gana Gueye’s shot as the Everton midfielder pulled the trigger unmarked inside the box.

At the stroke of halftime, Matasi extended a right hand to push Ismaila Sarr’s angled header off a Gueye cross onto the bar.

Earlier on in the 22nd minute, Matasi had made another important save to go down well and pick out a shot from Mbaye Niang who broke into the box after a quick throw in.

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