By Sedara Philip
Senegal have booked Africa’s first ticket to the FIFA World Cup after running riot to beat south Africa 5-0 in the quarter final of the TotalEnergies U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) at the Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algiers on Wednesday evening.
A pair of first half own goals by each of South Africa’s central defenders followed up by Mamadou Sadio’s goal and skipper Amara Diouf’s brace saw the Teranga Cubs continue with their impressive performance in the competition.
This is the first time ever that Senegal have progressed beyond the group stages of the U17 AFCON And by extension, the first time they have ever qualified for the World Cup.
Senegal scored three goals in seven minutes late in the first half to completely break down a spirited fight from South Africa.
Waylon Renecke was unfortunate to turn the ball into his own net in the 36th minute as he tried to cut out a headed ball just inside the six yard box.
Three minutes later, his central defense partner, skipper Benjamin Wallis, also put the ball into his own net as he tried to clear out after the keeper had spilled a freekick from Diouf.
Senegal made it 3-0 in the 43rd minute when Sadio scored with a brilliant half volley from the edge of the box after Abdou Aziz Fall had teed up the ball for him.
With a 3-0 cushion at halftime and a complete dominance that had seen South Africa fail to land a ball on target, the West Africans had the job half done.
In the second half, they needed just nine minutes to get their fourth, though it had to be given by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) which was being used at the tournament for the first time.
A run by Omar Sall on the left caught the South African backline off balance, the latter squaring for Diouf to slam home from inside the box. He had initially been flagged offside, but upon review, the VAR gave the goal.
In the 71st minute, Diouf who had enjoyed a brilliant performance capped it off with a brace when he headed home at the backpost after a brilliant cross from Ibrahima Diallo found his perfect run.
With a 5-0 cushion, South Africa’s fighting spirit was hugely dented, and Senegal eased through the remaining minutes with utter dominance