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AFCON “Liverpool Derby” Failed to Impress

The enticing Mané v Keïta matchup did not quite live up to the excitement promised

Guinea’s defender Issiaga Sylla (down) tackles Senegal’s forward Sadio Mane during the Group B Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Senegal and Guinea at Stade de Kouekong in Bafoussam on January 14, 2022. (Photo by Pius Utomi EKPEI / AFP)
Guinea’s defender Issiaga Sylla (down) tackles Senegal’s forward Sadio Mane during the Group B Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2021 football match between Senegal and Guinea at Stade de Kouekong in Bafoussam on January 14, 2022. (Photo by Pius Utomi EKPEI / AFP)
Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images

Senegal won their first AFCON match with a late Sadio Mané penalty against Zimbabwe, and Naby Keïta found himself voted Man of the Match in Guinea’s equally narrow win against Malawi.

The two Liverpool players faced each other today in matchday two for their international sides, and found themselves at the center of a 0-0 draw that rarely looked to be anything but scoreless.

Keïta again put in 90 minutes on the pitch, and was central to everything Guinea tried in both attack and defense. Perhaps surprisingly given the firepower Senegal have on their teamsheet, Guinea found themselves with the better chances through the first half, defending well to limit Senegal’s access to their penalty area.

Senegal did look more promising after the break, though never truly threatened to break the deadlock. A scoreless draw was probably the fairest result for both sides.

Both Mané and Keïta showed directness in their attacks on the opposition’s defense, and did themselves come together once — with Keïta earning a yellow for a late challenge on Mané.

Without any true highlights, both Liverpool players acquitted themselves well. With the draw, both teams sit on four points after two matches, with a goal difference also equal at one.

Both teams look likely to progress as things stand, though nothing is certain yet.