Senegal qualifies for World Cup via contentious replay

Senegal soccer players celebrate their win over South Africa at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, South Africa on November 10, 2017. (REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko)
Updated 11 November 2017
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Senegal qualifies for World Cup via contentious replay

POLOKWANE, South Africa: Senegal seized the second chance it was given by FIFA to qualify for the World Cup on Friday, beating South Africa 2-0 in a replay of a game it lost first time round last year.
FIFA ordered the qualifier to be played again because of match-fixing by the referee in the initial match in November 2016. At the center of FIFA’s decision was a penalty given against Senegal for a non-existent handball that helped South Africa win 2-1 12 months ago.
Senegal used the contentious replay at the same stadium in Polokwane in northern South Africa as the annulled game to seal its place at the World Cup for the first time since 2002.
Sadio Mane was pivotal in both goals. He set up Diafra Sakho for the opener in the 12th minute and forced an own goal by South Africa defender Thamsanqa Mkhize in the 39th.
“Thank you, South Africa,” Mane said. “It was not an easy game for us but we kept pushing.”
As Senegal’s qualification was confirmed at the final whistle, the Senegalese players huddled together and bounced up and down in celebration. Coach Aliou Cisse knelt and held his arms up. Cisse was captain of the Senegal team that made the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 2002, then only the second African team to get to the last eight.
That was the last and only time Senegal has made it to the World Cup.
Senegal joins Nigeria and Egypt as qualifiers for the 2018 tournament from Africa, so far. The last two qualifiers from Africa will be decided on Saturday. Either Tunisia or Congo and Morocco or Ivory Coast will make up Africa’s contingent in Russia.
Without FIFA’s intervention, Senegal’s group would have gone down to the last qualifiers next week, and all four teams would have still had a chance of qualifying. Burkina Faso and Cape Verde are the other two teams, both of whom were searching for a first-ever appearance at the World Cup.
Completing South Africa’s misery, it created more chances than Senegal in the replay but couldn’t make them count, hitting the crossbar in the first half and forcing a slew of saves from Senegal goalkeeper Khadim Ndiaye.
“All that talk doesn’t mean anything because they beat us 2-0 and they go to Russia,” South Africa coach Stuart Baxter said.
FIFA’s unprecedented decision to order the replay and give Senegal another chance came in September after the world body found Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey guilty of match-fixing. Lamptey was banned for life after FIFA found he was probably manipulating the game for betting rings. There was no involvement from the South Africa or Senegal teams. But the decision to replay a game because of fixing caused serious discontent among the three other teams competing against Senegal for a World Cup place.
South Africa decried the decision to strip it of its victory as unfair while Burkina Faso appealed FIFA’s decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, calling it “an abuse of power.” CAS has not announced any decision regarding Burkina Faso’s appeal and it’s unclear what would happen if sport’s highest court upholds the appeal.
In that case, Senegal’s celebrations might be premature.


As it happened: Saudi Arabia 2 Egypt 1 - Green Falcons bow out of World Cup in style

Updated 25 June 2018
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As it happened: Saudi Arabia 2 Egypt 1 - Green Falcons bow out of World Cup in style

  • Al-Dawsari's late winner gives Saudi Arabia first World Cup victory in 24 years
  • Green Falcons finish third in Group A ahead of Mohamed Salah's Egypt

FULL-TIME: And that is that, what a great ending to this World Cup for Juan Antonio Pizzi and his side, and all the Saudi fans in the ground - especially after the Russia game. Green Falcons finish third in the group, ahead of Egypt who go home without a point.

6.54PM: GOAL - SAUDI ARABIA - Late drama for the Green Falcons! Salem Al-Dawsari has scored with the last kick of the game to give Saudi Arabia a 2-1 win and their first in a World Cup for 24 years! What a celebration, too!

6.45PM: Great camaraderie between the Egypt and Saudi Arabian fans in the stands. The Mexican Wave is going round the stadium, which is never usually a good sign. But this has been a solid performance from both teams.

6.40PM: The Green Falcons have had a couple of free-kicks in promising positions in the last 5 minutes...both have been wasted, however. 10 minutes left...

6.30PM: That early bright start to this half is fading for Saudi Arabia as Egypt look to take control of the game, and Hector Cuper urges them on.

But what's this? Another two top saves from El-Hadary keeps Saudi Arabia at bay. They're not done just yet...

6.24PM: That's the end of the World Cup for Mohsen as the Egyptian No. 9 is replaced by Ramadan Sobhi.

Meanwhile, Aburadeah Aseri comes on for Bahebri for the Green Falcons.

25 minutes left.

6.21PM: Both of Egypt's goals at this World Cup have been scored by Salah, but Trezeguet came awfully close to joining the party as his towering header flashes just past the post with Al-Mosailem in the Saudi goal well beaten.

6.15PM: The intensity has just dropped out of this game now, and is beginning to look like the "dead rubber" we thought it would be. Saudi Arabia seem content to knock it around the middle just now, and Egypt are happy to let them.

6.08PM: Much better from Saudi Arabia who are attacking with a lot more intent at the beginning of the second half, they're pinning Egypt back into their own half at the moment.

5.45PM - HALFTIME: What a story for Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary, who pulled off a fantastic save to keep Egypt ahead. Magical moment. But the second penalty gives Saudi Arabia hope for the second half. 

The Salah goal opened the game up much more, and the Green Falcons produced some much better football to create opportunities. 

One last push in the second half could see them claim a famous victory.

5.48PM: After VAR review, the penalty is confirmed and Salman Al-Faraj buries it! GOAL FOR SAUDI ARABIA! At last...

5.45PM: A SECOND PENALTY TO SAUDI ARABIA...

5.40PM: PENALTY TO SAUDI ARABIA - And Fahad misses it...the wait for a goal at this World Cup goes on for the Green Falcons!

5.36PM: Salman has a glorious chance for Saudi Arabia, but his shot inside the box is blocked on the line and goes out for a corner. Green Falcons' best chance of the game.

5.30PM: That's given the thousands of Egyptian fans in this Volgograd Arena something to cheer about, and they're the ones making all the noise now.

5.22PM: GOAL - Who else? Mohamed Salah with a wonderful touch chips it into the net to give the Pharoahs a 1-0 lead...

5.20PM: As we've seen for the majority of this tournament, Saudi Arabia keep the ball reasonably well in the first two-thirds ... but they are just lacking that quality needed in the final third to turn possession into goals.

5.12PM: There's one glimmer of hope about this World Cup for Saudi Arabia - according to the statisticians, they boast some one of the best passing accuracy figures at the tournament. Having made 1,107 passes in their two games before today, they boasted an accuracy of 83.9%, just behind Spain on 91.3%. Iran were at the bottom with 61.3%.

5.07PM: Saudi Arabia win their first corner of the match... and it is comfortably cleared by the Egyptian defense. But that was better from the Green Falcons.

5.00PM: Here we go, Saudi Arabia and Egypt's final game of the 2018 World Cup is under way...

4.50PM: Al-Ahli's Alexis Ruano is watching the game and is hoping for a Saudi Arabia win by the looks of it...

Meanwhile, the Egypt fans are in good voice in the stands too...

4.40PM: Saudi Arabia coach Juan Antonio Pizzi spoke before the match: "It's very easy with hindsight, after the results that we have had, to come up with situations that you'd like to change. But unfortunately we coaches have to take most of our decisions before things pan out.

"We've seen that certain concepts work, we've seen alternatives, we've tried to bring in new players as well, and this experience that we have had specifically in the run-up to this World Cup has been very important."

4.15PM: This must be some sort of record because there is 45 minutes to go until kick-off and we have not spoken about Mohamed Salah yet. The news El-Hadary will start and enter the record books has taken the spotlight away from the "Egyptian King". We reckon that both for him and the rest of the squad that will come as a huge relief. Cominginto this match there were reports Salah was ready to quit international football, such was the circus that his playing/non-playing created — the latest episode of which saw both player and team management deny that rumor.

4PM: EL-HADARY SET TO MAKE HISTORY —  So the last matches of Group A have arrived and while hosts Russia will be battling it out with Uruguay to see who goes though as group winners, the Green Falcons and Egypt have little but pride to play for in Volgograd.

The big team news that has come out so far is that Hector Cuper has had a heart and will start Egypt goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary. That means El-Hadary will become the oldest player ever to appear at a World Cup. Aged 45 years, five months and 12 days he will smash the record currently held by Colombia goalkeeper Faryd Mondragon, who was aged 43 years and three days when he played against Japan in Brazil in 2014.

This may be a dead rubber, however, both sides will be keen to get a win. Saudi Arabia are looking for their first World Cup victory since 1994, while the Pharaohs are searching for their first win in the tournament ever.