WEST African footvall giants Senegal have to cope with the tenacious COSAFA representative Zimbabwe in Group B opener of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Cameroon 2021 later today.
It will certainly be no walk in the park for the Teranga Lions, as they will have to earn their way past a motivated Warriors team whose match allowances have been settled well in advance, a rare feat for the Norman Mapeza-coached side.
The Bafoussam OmnisportKouekong Stadium will host the opening this highly anticipated Group B match on Monday.
Date: 10 January 2022
Time: 14:00 local time (13:00 GMT)
Venue: Kouekong Stadium, Bafoussam
Match: Senegal v Zimbabwe
The Teranga Lions missed out on gold in the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations in 2019 losing by a lone goal in the final to Algeria. Senegal also lost the 2002 final on penalties to Cameroon.
The Warriors have only made 5 appearances at the AFCON and have never made it past the Group stages. Zimbabwe will be hoping to defy all odds and man an appearance in the knockout stages.
Led by Liverpool star Sadio Mane, Senegal will be hoping for a different outcome in Cameroon but first they have to negotiate past Zimbabwe in their opening fixture.
Coach Aliou Cisse team for the tournament in Cameroon is headlined by Premier League stars Edouard Mendy of Chelsea, Sadio Mane of Liverpool and Chiekhou Kouyate of Crystal Palace. Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye and Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly are also in the squad.
Zimbabwe coach Norman Mapeza named a severely weakened national team squad missing several key players.
Mapeza’s options have been severely limited following the retirement of South Africa-based star Khama Billiat, the absence of Tendayi Darikwa and injuries to Marshal Munetsi, Marvelous Nakamba and recently capped defender Brendan Galloway who were expected to form the spine of the AFCON squad.
● Senegal have won their two previous encounters with Zimbabwe at the Africa Cup of Nations, both by a 2-0 scoreline (in 2006 and 2017).
● Senegal are making their 16th appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations, it’s a record for a team that has never won the trophy. The closest they came to winning the tournament was in 2002 (lost the final on penalties against Cameroon) and 2019 (lost 1-0 to Algeria in the final).
● Senegal have won their opening game in each of the last three Africa Cup of Nations (v Ghana in 2015, v Tunisia in 2017, v Tanzania in 2019).
● Since 2017, Senegal have kept more clean sheets than any other team in the Africa Cup of Nations (8 in 11 matches).
● Zimbabwe are making their fifth appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations. They have finished bottom of their group in each of their four previous participations and never kept a clean sheet (12 games).
● Sadio Mané has scored or assisted 43% of Senegal’s goals over the last two Africa Cup of Nations (5 goals, 1 assist). He’s also completed 37 dribbles (3.4 per game) since his debut in the competition in 2015, more than any other player over that period.