Tuesday, 18 January 2022 20:10

Malawi hold uninspired Senegal to a goalless draw in Group B clash.

Staff Reporter.

Senegal finished top of Group B at the Africa Cup of Nations despite being held to a 0-0 draw by Malawi.

Habib Diallo and Sadio Mane went close for Senegal, while Malawi had the award of a penalty overturned following a video assistant referee review.

The Flames thought they had a spot-kick in the 74th minute when left-back Gomezgani Chirwa went down under the challenge of Bouna Sarr.

But referee Blaise Yuven Ngwa reversed his decision after studying replays.

Malawi finish third in the table on four points and could yet qualify for the last 16 in Cameroon as one of four best-ranked third-placed sides.

Senegal, Nations Cup runners-up in 2019, only scored one goal in their three group matches - Mane's 97th-minute winner against Zimbabwe in their opener.

The Teranga Lions will face a third-placed side from Group A, C or D in the last 16 on Tuesday, 25 January.

Senegal were back to full strength for the first time, with goalkeeper Edouard Mendy and captain Kalidou Koulibaly making their first appearances following bouts of Covid-19 and midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye also returning after a positive test.

Yet Aliou Cisse's side - among the pre-tournament favourites - were still lacking fluency and end product, and Malawi were the more threatening side in the first half after Mane lifted an early chance over the bar.

Koulibaly had to be alert to shut down Gabadinho Mhango twice, while the Flames forward had a free-kick deflected wide.

Meanwhile, Mendy,who was named Best FIFA men's goalkeeper on Monday, had to help a Chirwa cross behind.

Senegal improved after the break as Diallo's header and Mane's curling free-kick from wide on the left were pushed over the bar by Malawi goalkeeper Charles Thomu.

Sarr put a diving header wide and, after Malawi's penalty award was overturned, Senegal substitute Famara Diedhiou almost netted a sensational first-time volley having chested down a long ball.

Malawi tired as the game wore on, but could yet find themselves in the knockout stages for the first time in their history, having reached the Nations Cup for only the third time.