Egypt 2019 losing finalists Senegal are the first team to qualify for the Total Africa Cup of Nations to be staged in Cameroon in 2022 after their 1-0 victory over Guinea Bissau on Sunday preserved their unbeaten record in the qualification matches to earn them an unassailable lead at the top of Group I.
With 12 points from four matches, the worst they can finish with two matches remaining is second and that means they have already earned their ticket to Cameroon.
Sadio Mane scored the lone goal of the match in the 82nd minute, making amends for several missed chances in the second half as The Lions of Teranga showed their supremacy.
Guinea Bissau had to finish the match with 10 men after Bura Noguieira was sent off for a second bookable offense in the 64th minute.
For all their dominance, Senegal were happy to come off with three points and a ticket to Cameroon.
Sadio Mane was at the heart of all Senegalese open chances in the opening half. In the eighth minute, he had a go at goal with an improvised shot from inside the box which went wide.
In the 16th minute he had a brilliant chance with an open goal when Boulaye Dia did well to skip over the keeper, but the Liverpool FC forward who picked up the ball hit the side netting.
In the 28th minute, Mane had another chance with a volley from distance but once again his effort could not come on target.
In the second half, the home side pumped in the pressure, hoping to punish Senegal for all their missed chances. On the hour mark they had a chance when Marcelo Djalo forced the Senegalese keeper to a great save with a header inside the box off a corner.
But Guinea Bissau’s hopes of piling the pressure for a goal were deflated four minutes later when Bura was sent off and Senegal turned the tide to take advantage of the numerical advantage.
And Mane made them pay with eight minutes left when a little link up play with Dia saw him break into the box before toe poking past the keeper.
Chad 1-1 Guinea
Meanwhile, another Liverpool player was shining, this time Naby Keita scoring as Guinea was held to a 1-1 draw by Chad in N’Djamena.
Keita broke the deadlock in the 24th minute but Chad equalized through Ahmat Abdaraman at the stroke of halftime. The home side was reduced to 10 men in the 89th minute when Eric Mbangossoum was sent off for a second yellow card, but they managed to hold on for the win.
With the result, Guinea remain top of Group A with eight points, while Chad pick their first point of the qualifiers.