No Mane, no problem as Aliou Cisse congratulates Senegal on first win at 2019 Africa Cup of Nations
Keita Balde and Krepin Diatta on target in Senegal win over Tanzania before Riyadh Mahrez leads Algeria to 2-0 win over Kenya in Group C
Senegal got their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations campaign under way with three points in the absence of star forward Sadio Mane while Riyad Mahrez was on target in Algeria's win over Kenya on Sunday.
Liverpool forward Mane served out a one-match suspension as Senegal pulled off a comfortable 2-0 win over Tanzania in Group C thanks to goals from Keita Balde and Krepin Diatta.
Senegal, one of the pre-tournament favourites to win the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) alongside hosts Egypt, exerted total control in stifling conditions in front of a sparse crowd at the 30 June Stadium in Cairo.
Tanzania, making their first appearance at the biennial championship in 39 years, were thankful the scoreline was not more lopsided, with Mbaye Niang guilty of missing a host of clear-cut chances.
"It's not easy to replace Sadio Mane, but the players who were there did the job and we have to congratulate them," said manager Aliou Cisse, who was part of the Senegal team that finished runners-up at the 2002 Afcon.
Niang wasted a golden chance to open the score on six minutes when clean through on goal, firing into the side netting.
It was left down to teammate Balde to break the deadlock on 28 minutes. The Monaco forward latched on to a superb pass from Idrissa Gueye and the force of Balde's low shot saw it squirm through the hands of Tanzania goalkeeper Aishi Manula at the near post.
Niang and Balde continued to test Manula throughout the second half before Diatta settled the tie with a vicious half-volley on 64 minutes as he capitalised on a poor clearance from the Tanzania defence.
Algeria mirrored Senegal's scoreline and dominance in their run out against Kenya at the same venue in the later kick off.
The North Africans are perennial underachievers in their own continent despite being regular qualifiers for the World Cup, having lifted the Cup of Nations title only once.
Prolific striker Baghdad Bounedjah fired Algeria ahead from the penalty spot on 34 minutes and Manchester City winger Mahrez turned in a second before half time.
"It's never easy to win the first game of any competition. It's always difficult for us to start the Cup of Nations," said Algeria manager Djamel Belmadi.
"Most of the time we drew or lost so this was an important message to send to the players, that if we want to have more of a chance to get past the first round we had to win this game."
Across town at the Al-Salam Stadium, Morocco ran out 1-0 winners over Namibia in Group D thanks to substitute Itamunua Keimuine's last-minute own goal.
Updated: June 24, 2019 10:43 AM