Football

Senegal in semi-finals, thanks to their Merseyside connection

Senegal reached the African Nations Cup semi-finals for the first time since 2006, when Idrissa Gueye scored to deliver a 1-0 last-eight win over Benin in Cairo yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Everton midfielder struck on 70 minutes, side-footing the ball into the net from close range after being set up by Liverpool star Sadio Mane.

On Sunday, 2002 runners-up Senegal will face either giant-killers Madagascar or under-performing Tunisia in a semi-final in the Egyptian capital.

"We were expecting a complicated match and my players did not give up because they have a good mentality, were patient and respected instructions," said Senegal coach Aliou Cisse.

"At this stage of the tournament, anyone can beat anyone.

"We came here with the ambition of playing seven matches, and we will play them. We want to play in the final."

This was the first Nations Cup match to use the VAR (video assistant referee) system and there were no controversial incidents.

But, in the other quarter-final yesterday morning, Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr could not resist a dig at the VAR after his team's win 2-1 over South Africa.

Samuel Chukwueze had given Nigeria the lead in the first half, but South Africa equalised after the VAR overruled a lineman's decision to disallow a goal by Bongani Zungu for offside.

"For five minutes, we had to wait, goal or no goal, and that was hard for my team," said Rohr, who also praised his team for not giving up.

Defender William Troost-Ekong scored off a corner in the 89th minute to send Nigeria through to the semi-finals, where they will meet either Ivory Coast or Algeria. - REUTERS

Football