Senegal put a string of disastrous Africa Cup of Nations campaigns behind them Thursday by beating Zimbabwe 2-0 and becoming the first qualifiers for the 2017 quarter-finals.
The Group B match was all but over as a contest after only 13 minutes in Gabonese city Franceville after Liverpool star Sadio Mane and Henri Saivet scored.
Since finishing fourth in 2006, the Senegalese have suffered a horror run in the premier African football competition, failing to get past the group stage three times and not even qualifying twice.
Now they are guaranteed to top Group B — whatever the result of their final fixture against battling Algeria next Monday.
Mane, seen as his country’s talisman and most potent threat going forward, was the star man and as long as he turns out performances like this then Senegal will remain hopeful of making a mockery of that woeful AFCON record in recent years.
For a while on Wednesday, it seemed like Cameroon would be on the receiving end of one of the greatest upsets in African Cup of Nations – or indeed, football – history.
Minnows Guinea-Bissau had taken a shock lead in the 13th minute, and held onto their lead until the hour mark of the match before Cameroon finally found an equaliser. 17 minutes later, Cameroon defender Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui netted into the bottom corner of the Guinea-Bissau goal with a superbly-taken strike.
The Slavia Prague defender’s goal means Cameroon are in charge of Group A, after tournament hosts Gabon spluttered to another draw, against Burkina Faso.
The Indomitable Lions are on top of the group with four points, ahead of Gabon and Burkina Faso on two. Guinea-Bissau, for all their heroics, languish on one point. Cameroon need only a draw in their final group match, against Gabon, to qualify for the quarter-finals.
Essam El Hadary became the oldest player ever to appear at the Africa Cup of Nations as Egypt drew 0-0 with Mali on their return to the tournament on Tuesday.
The 44-year-old goalkeeper came off the bench in the first half to replace the injured Ahmed El Shennawy and beat the old mark set by compatriot Hossam Hassan, who was 39 when he played at the 2006 Cup of Nations.
Otherwise, the Pharaohs’ return to Africa’s biggest stage after a seven-year absence proved to be something of an anti-climax with neither side creating many chances on a terrible playing surface in Port-Gentil.
The result means Ghana are in control of Group D following their 1-0 win against Uganda earlier in the day at the same venue.
But, for El Hadary, a clean sheet was a perfect return, if only the more forward thinking players could have done their jobs as well as the 44-year-old.