Two Bundesliga players started for their respective countries in a tense Group B encounter on Day Six of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Bouna Sarr (Bayern, Senegal) and Ilaix Moriba (Leipzig, Guinea) also got quality looks at goal in a match that ultimately ended in a 0-0 draw.
A somewhat disappointing scoreline notwithstanding, the AFCON group gets set up for an exciting final conclusion on the third and final group stage matchday.
Just as he did on Monday, Bayern fullback Bouna Sarr featured as a forward weapon for Aliou Cissé's Lions of Teranga in Senegal's second group stage match at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. On this particular day, the 29-year-old even worked as an attacking winger in a 4-2-3-1 that moved Liverpool's Sadio Mané into the ten-spot. Villareal's Boulaye Dia worked as the lone striker. Turkish league veteran Mame Thiam was deployed opposite Sarr on the left flank.
Guinean trainer Kaba Diawara stuck with the 5-3-2 utilized in the Syli Nationale's opening group stage win over Malawi. A notable personnel change saw Leipzig's Ilaix Moriba inserted into the starting XI. The former Barça youth prodigy began on the right in a tight midfield axis. The RB youngsters axial partner was none other than Liverpool's Kaby Keita.
Both Bundesligsts were entrusted by their respective trainers to be set-piece takers. This led to chances for both players. Moriba, who with a shift of 66 minutes well exceeded his number of league minutes for Leipzig this year, flashed a free-kick over from 30 meters out in the 9th. Sarr shot one from 18 meters our directly into the wall just six minutes later.
The two sides could aptly be described as plodding during the first half. There was little in terms of goalmouth action. The Guineans were able to execute a lightning quick counterattack shortly after the half-hour mark that got everyone up off of their seats. Everything was perfectly played, save for the weak finish from FC Paris' Morgan Guilavogui.
Bundesliga fans recognizing the name may be interested to know that Guinea's lead striker is indeed the younger brother of former VfL Wolfsburg captain Joshua Guilavogui,
The quality of play improved significantly after the restart. Cissé's Senegal in particular stepped up their game, forcing several full-stretch parries from Guinean keeper Aly Keita during an especially strong spell. The attacking barrage from the Terangans mostly continued uninterrupted between the 50th and 67th.
At the tail end of it all, Sarr missed perhaps the best chance. Bayern's underused fullback was played into the penalty area brilliantly why Sané in the 67th. The FCB man even out-deked his marker with a clever dummy. The finish regrettably sailed harmlessly past the far post. Guinea managed some more good approaches immediately thereafter, but the action truly tapered off in the final quarter of an hour.
Sarr finished with three efforts on target, all of which the 29-year-old would surely like to have back. Overall, Moriba would have wanted to be more involved. Keita handled most of the forward traffic while the Leipzig man garnered perhaps 20 touches or less.
In other Bundesliga-related AFCON news, Eintracht Frankfurt's Aymen Barkok (Morocco) remains under COVID quarantine. The attacking did not feature in Vahid Halihodzic's bench squad in Morocco's 2-0 victory over the Comoros.
Senegal and Guinea are tied for first place in Group B with four points. Lurking slightly behind them heading in the final group stage round are sudden tournament sensations Malawi, who managed a upset 2-1 victory over Zimbabwe today.
|20||Bouna Sarr ↪90|
|10||Sadio Mané (C)|
|27||Mame Thiam ↪74|
|9||Boulaye Dia ↪81|
|28||Alioune Badara Faty|
|7||Keita Baldé ↩90|
|11||Habibou Diallo ↩74|
|13||Joseph Lopy ↩81|
|17||Pape Matar Sarr|
|13||Mohamed Aly Camara|
|14||Moriba Kourouma Kourouma ↪66|
|6||Amadou Diawara ↪78|
|8||Naby Keïta (C)|
|10||Morgan Guilavogui ↪90|
|2||M. Sylla ↩90|
|12||Ibrahima Conté ↩66|
|24||Mory Konate ↩78|
|27||Gaoussou Youssouf Siby|