Senegal, Egypt’s goal scorer as in the recent African Cup of Nations final, Cameroon, who toppled against Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Ghana, won their qualification on Tuesday, March 29 for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after the return leg from the Africa zone.
History therefore repeated itself for Senegal. On February 6, Sadio Mané allowed his country to lift the first African Cup of Nations in its history by scoring the last shot on goal in the final against Egypt. Nearly two months later, the same Sadio Mané Teranga led the Lions flock against Qatar and converted another crucial shot on goal, again against the Egyptians, this time in the second round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
And this time, 30 kilometers from Dakar, it was first necessary to christen Abdoulaye-Wade Stadium in Diamniadio (inaugurated on February 22, 2022 during a gala match). The 50,000 tickets had – of course – found buyers. The kickoff was scheduled for 5pm (local time), but by noon they were already thousands to hear in the stands.
When it’s time for the Egyptian anthem, the song from Mohamed Salah’s teammates is inaudible, covered by the noise of the stands. Green dots then appear on the faces of the visiting players: these are lasers pointing from the stands. The match has not started yet, but the tone has already been set. This evening promises to be electric.
It will be more when Senegal open the scoring from 3and minute. It was a dipping freekickby Idrissa Gueye but it didnt quite do enough and hit the bar after beating Boulaye Dia and his despairing dive. The Teranga Lions thus caught up with their delay in the first round. 1-0 was the score already in the first match in favor of Egypt on Friday 25 March in Cairo.
Aliou Cissé, Senegalese side, and Carlos Queiroz, Egyptian side, mock each other: Very soon the referee will come and reassure the two coaches. As the match progresses, players make mistakes and appear more and more nervous. The voltage on the stands infuses the field.
Swarm of lasers
Dominant in the first period, the Lions of Teranga rarely had their chances after the break. Neither team is controlling the action at this point in the match, with the stats showing a 50:50 split. Consequence: the extension will be inevitable, as in the CAN final. At 95and Min.27, ‘deviated kick of Diamniadio’s Abdoulaye-Wade stadium, Sadio Mané sends a lovely pass to the feet of Ismaïla Sarr who races through the defense going 1-on-1 with the keeper …. beautiful goal! The Senegalese striker has the goal wide open in front of him, but he hits with his heel and the ball miraculously returns to the Egyptian goalkeeper, Mohamed El Shenawy.
The match therefore extends to penalty kicks. A confusing session that begins with four failed attempts (two on each side), including Mohamed Salahs. Like all his teammates, the Egyptian star had to face a swarm of lasers aimed at his eyes from the stands. He sent the ball very far over the crossbar.
His friend and club mate in Liverpool, Sadio Mané, has the clear vision of hitting the fifth Senegalese attempt in the middle and delivering his supporters. As in 2002 and 2018, the Teranga Lions participate in the World Cup.
Dante scenario for Cameroon
A little later, in the evening, at the end of a Danish scenario, Djamel Belmadi, on his knees, inconsolable, could not get up on Blida’s lawn after the final whistle. Karl Toko-Ekambi has just scored the 1-2 goal, which sends Cameroon to the World Cup, at the expense of Algeria, in the 124th.and minute of the match.
Twenty-nine years later, Olympique Lyonnais player Emil Kostadinov’s clothes wore the Bulgarian executioner of the Blues in their quest for the 1994 World Cup, allowing the indomitable lions to return to world matches for the first time since 2014.
Still, it was an adventure that seemed to have been written moments earlier with the goal of young Ahmed Touba who had just come in and who thought he would send Fennecs and Mustapha-Tchaker Stadium to Qatar (1-1, 118 )and). In the end, the Algerian coach really mourns the elimination of the African champions in 2019, but on a positive ballot after their success in the first match in Cameroon (0-1).
But the goal scored by Eric Chupo-Moting, from 18and minute on a corner, allowed the troops of Rigobert Song to hope, after a bad first round. This scenario drew the outlines of a difficult night for Algeria, who since their two setbacks during the last African Cup in January appear to have lost the sacred fire, after 35 matches without defeat.
“The sky has fallen on our heads”
Sometimes sterile with the ball at his feet, the Algerians generally dominated the debates, facing a Cameroonian blockade that came to play the counterattack. At this meeting, similar to France-Bulgaria 1993, Algeria will regret having regretted until the end.
Undefeated in 43 games (36 wins, 7 draws) since 2002 in Blida’s framework, Fennecs will have been waiting for their 44and reception to experience the taste of defeat. A setback with cruel consequences for an undefeated nation in the obstacle course that is the African zone’s qualifications for the World Cup.
“We are collapsing”, confessed to Djamel Belmadi after the match. “The sky has fallen on our heads. It’s football, it’s sport. But it’s our whole life at the same time.”he added.
“La Verte” will miss another World Cup in a row and will see its Moroccan and Tunisian neighbors represent the Maghreb colors of Qatar.
Morocco, Tunisia and Ghana have their ticket in their pocket
Morocco won largely in Casablanca over the Democratic Republic of Congo (1-1 in the first match). Azzedine Ounahi, author of a double, Tarik Tissoudali and Parisian Achraf Hakimi offered their country a sixth participation in a world championship. The Congolese saved their honor with a very nice sequence from Ben Malango at the end of the game.
Tunisia will therefore also see Qatar, thanks to their 1-0 success in the first match in Mali, thanks to Moussa Sissako. On the return to Radès, the two teams were neutralized 0-0.
After a first match without a winner (0-0), Ghana also got its ticket by playing 1-1 draw in Nigeria. Captain Thomas Partey opened the scoring with a long shot before William Troost-Ekong got just the two teams from the penalty spot (22).and).
But thanks to the goal scored outside (the rule still applies in the African zone, unlike European cups), the Black Stars will participate in their first World Cup in eight years.
In the European zone, Portugal and Poland qualified
Portugal qualified for the World Cup 2022 by beating Northern Macedonia (2-0) on Tuesday night in the final in Porto. Cristiano Ronaldo, 37, will therefore have the opportunity to play in the fifth world championship of his career. The Portuguese got their ticket to Qatar thanks to Bruno Fernandes, author of a double against the Macedonians, who had created the surprise by eliminating Italy.
Robert Lewandowski’s Poland also qualified in the evening, beating Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden (2-0) in the second play-off final in Chorzow. The Bayern Munich striker scored the opening goal from the penalty spot and Piotr Zielinski doubled the lead.
There is still one ticket to be awarded in the European zone: Ukraine, whose match has been postponed, must face Scotland, and the winner of this confrontation will challenge Gareth Bale Wales to validate their participation in the Qatari World Cup.