For the second time this year Egypt have been left broken-hearted by a penalty shootout against Senegal. But Mohamed Salah and company might reasonably ask how they could ever have hoped to win when they must surely have struggled to see the goal, let alone put the ball in it.
Having beaten Egypt in the Africa Cup of Nations final in January, Senegal booked their place in 2022 World Cup in similar fashion on Tuesday. Sadio Mane netted the winning penalty as the Teranga Lions secured a comeback victory that propelled them to Qatar. Boulaye Dia had scrambled home an Idrissa Gueye free kick in the first half to draw the hosts level on aggregate in the tie, which Egypt had led through a Saliou Ciss own goal in the first leg, but from the fourth minute to the 120th there was to be no separating these sides.
That meant a penalty shootout in Diamniadio, one where Egypt might have felt they were excessively disadvantaged. Every spot kick that Pharoahs goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy faced saw several laser beams from the crowd shone in his face, though it should be noted that Senegal players were on the receiving end of similar treatment in last week's first leg. The scenes were perhaps even more pronounced when it was the turn of an Egyptian player to take a spot kick; Salah's face appeared to be bathed in green light before he skied his effort over during the shootout.
Each of the first four penalties were missed with El Shenawy saving in remarkable fashion from Ciss, diving to his right to push the effort to safety. Ismaila Sarr would ultimately open the scoring in the shootout with the fifth effort. From then on Senegal would not miss whilst Edouard Mendy stayed in position to parry Mostafa Mohamed's effort down the middle of the goal. Mane would then win the night from the spot, sending his country to their second successive World Cup.
SALAH SKIES THE PENALTY AGAINST MENDY! pic.twitter.com/FBpsxl4FQ2— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 29, 2022
That may ultimately have been a fair reflection of a second leg in which Senegal had the bulk of the chances but the manner of their exit amid a storm of crowd interference will leave Egypt far from impressed.
Senegal will be joined at the tournament by Ghana, who drew 1-1 in Nigeria to advance past their great rival on away goals. Thomas Partey netted the game's opener for the visitors, who were pegged back by a William Troost Ekong penalty before Victor Osimhen was denied what could have been the winner for the Super Eagles.
Cameroon qualify on unbelievable, dramatic winner
The lasers might not have been the wildest thing seen in African soccer on Tuesday. Cameroon beat Algeria 1-0 in regulation, forcing extra time in the second leg, and that's where things went bonkers. A header goal from Algeria's Ahmed Touba in the 118th minute looked set to cement the team's spot at the World Cup, but Cameroon did not lose hope. Karl Ekambi put home a last-second, desperation effort, finishing inside the box to win the match 2-1 and send the Indomitable Lions to Qatar.
118’ Algeria ⚽️— Eric Njiru (@EricNjiiru) March 29, 2022
120+4’ Cameroon ⚽️
Football is full of surprises. Algeria 🇩🇿 thought they had won it. pic.twitter.com/xWylBJ9uGp
The rest of Africa
- Tunisia qualified after their home draw to Mali 0-0, advancing 1-0 on aggregate
- Morocco qualified after their home win over DR Congo 4-1, advancing 5-2 on aggregate.
- Ghana earned a 1-1 draw at Nigeria to qualify 1-1 on aggregate thanks to an away goal.