Senegal got their campaign off to a positive start defeating South Africa 3-1 in their opening Group A match of the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations on Saturday at the LSS Stadium, Dakar.
Ibrahima Keita netted a brace in the first forty-five before substitute Issa Sarr sealed victory in the final minutes of the game whilst Phumlani Ntshangase scored a consolation goal for the South Africans.
‘Les Lionceaux’ were up from a start and the attacking duo of Ismaila Sarr and Keita were just too much for their opponents.
On 16th minute, Sarr was floored by South Africa captain Kwandakwensizwa Mngonyama for a penalty which was nicely converted by Keita for the opener. Minutes later, the pair teamed up again with Sarr squaring a brilliant pass to Keita who slotted the ball past the South African Keeper Stuart Goss.
The South Africans pulled one back on 28 minutes from the spot after Senegal defender Ibrahima Diedhiou knocked down Phakamani Mahlambi. Ntshangase stepped up with a tricky shot past Keeper Pape Ndiaye.
Issa Sarr scored the third goal three minutes from time to wrap up victory for the hosts.
Serigne Saliou Dia (Head Coach, Senegal)
It was not easy for us because South Africa played well and they created good chances, but we managed to defend well. It was important that we started with a win as host. Coming into the game, we knew little about the South Africa team but as the match went on, we knew how to play them. We changed our player (Ibrahima Diedhiou) because he could have been shown a straight red card for the penalty he gave away, but that was to protect him for the coming games.
Pape Ndiaye (Captain, Senegal)
It was difficult at the start but we’re satisfied with the result because the team is very good.
South Africa is a good team as well and they created some good chances. We want the Senegalese public to come out and give the team then necessary support because with their support we can do a lot at this tournament. We’re ready for the next game, because we want to take it match by match.
Owen da Gama (Head Coach, South Africa)
I congratulate Senegal for the win because they were the better side today. I don’t want to take excuses but we didn’t play to our best at all today. We will keep on working to leave our mark here. We created the first chances of this match but we couldn’t convert them.
I’m really proud of our performance despite of the defeat because most our players are young. Our main striker was playing very deep but he’s only 18-years and he’s a new sensation in South Africa. We can still qualify from the group.
Phumlani Ntshangase (Striker, South Africa)
We tried to give our best but we faced a difficult opponent. For most of our players, this is their first international match. We can still qualify because we’re here to secure our place for Rio de Janeiro