Senegal goes top after 1-1 draw with South Africa
MONGOMO, Equatorial Guinea (AP) — Senegal came back for a 1-1 draw with South Africa to move top of Group C at the African Cup of Nations on Friday.
Defender Serigne Mbodji equalized with a thumping header in the 61st minute after Senegal had fallen behind to Oupa Manyisa’s goal early in the second half.
The Senegalese also had a goal disallowed three minutes before Mbodji’s header, when Sadio Mane’s strike was ruled out for offside. It was a tight call.
Group C is wide open, with favorite Algeria and Ghana a point behind on three points after Ghana’s 1-0 win earlier on Friday. South Africa is bottom and has the toughest task to make the quarterfinals.
Senegal fought back for the second time at the Cup of Nations after the last-minute 2-1 win over Ghana in its opener, and now needs just a draw to emerge from a tough group and make the quarterfinals.
“Before the tournament everyone said the three other teams were the favorites for the group. Right now, we are in first position,” Senegal captain Bouna Coundoul said.
Senegal needed to show fight for the second straight game, though, after Manyisa was played in on the left two minutes into the second half and hit his shot across Coundoul for South Africa’s lead.
Recovered from injury and back in the team, midfielder Mane had a goal disallowed, but Senegal kept attacking and Mbodji rose to power home his header in the 61st.
Dame N’Doye made an immediate impact for Senegal off the bench, driving a rising shot toward goal in the last 10 minutes and forcing keeper Thapelo Mabokgwane to dive to his right and knock it away.
And in a frantic finish, South Africa’s Anele Ngcongca had a glimpse of goal before being denied by a block from defender Lamine Gassama.
While Senegal knows what it needs to do, South Africa must beat Ghana to make the last eight and hope Algeria loses to Senegal.
“Of course we have a chance,” South Africa midfielder Dean Furman said. “We always have a chance. That’s how we’ve approached this tournament from the start.”