World Cup 2018

Senegal book World Cup slot

The West African nation reaches the World Cup finals for the first time since 2002.

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Senegal qualify for World Cup
PHILL MAGAKOE AFP

Senegal sealed a return to the World Cup as they defeated South Africa 2-0 on Friday at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane.

This is the first time the West African nation has qualified for the FIFA World Cup since their 2002 debut. 

Controversy over replayed match

The original qualifier, played on November 2016, ended 2-1 for the Bafana Bafana, however, this result was annulled since Joseph Lamptey, the referee in charge of the game, was found guilty of manipulating the match.

The replay was a live or die match for South Africa, as they had to win their last two games to have any chance of making it to Russia.

The game began with advantage for the visitors. After 13 minutes Diafra Sakho scored the first goal after a brilliant pass by Liverpool’s Sadio Mané.

Shortly before the half-time, Mané had a shot saved, but a mistake by South African defender Thamsanqa Mkhize, who failed to control the ball, resulted in an own-goal.

The second half saw the Bafana Bafana try to get back into the game, however, with Senegal comfortably sitting back with a two-goal advantage, the hosts struggled to generate danger.

Just before the hour mark Sibusiso Vilakazi had a chance to score for South Africa, but goalkeeper Ndiaye made a brilliant stop.

In the end, South Africa just couldn’t get past Senegal’s defense, with the match finishing 2-0 for the visitors.

Mané: “Not an easy game”

Sadio Mané, who played a leading role in Senegal’s away victory, spoke after the match. 'Thank you, South Africa,' he said. 'It was not an easy game for us but we kept pushing.'

Senegal join Nigeria and Egypt as the qualified African teams for the 2018 tournament so far.

With two more spots still remaining, CAF qualifiers will be decided on Saturday, with Tunisia and Congo, and Morocco and Ivory Coast fighting for a World Cup slot.

The Senegalese players will now hope to repeat their country’s achievement in their first participation in 2002, when they defeated World Cup holders France and reached the quarter-finals.

Their current head coach Aliou Cisse was the Senegalese captain during the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup.