FRIDAY: Uganda 🇺🇬 vs Senegal 🇸🇳 10pm
Onyango is ready, who else is in Cranes camp after strike
Cairo, Egypt | AFP | Star forward Sadio Mane goes head-to-head with star goalkeeper Denis Onyango when Senegal meet troubled Uganda on Friday in an Africa Cup of Nations last-16 match in Cairo.
Senegalese Mane and Ugandan Onyango were included in the 2018 African team of the year chosen by a Confederation of African Football (CAF) panel.
They are also Champions League winners — Mane with Liverpool in Europe last season and Onyango with South African club Mamelodi Sundowns in Africa three years ago.
Mane has scored twice and missed a penalty for Senegal in two group matches after being suspended for the opening match.
“I am even ready to trade my Champions League success to win the Africa Cup of Nations,” he told France Football magazine in a pre-tournament interview.
Veteran Onyango has conceded three goals in three matches with another Liverpool star, Egyptian Mohamed Salah, among those who have scored against him.
He however leads a team still rocking from a strike over bonuses. Onyango told the pre-match conference he is ready for the tie, but the toll of a full day in which the team was diverted in negotiations with soccer governing body FUFA over bonuses could show in this game.
The stalemate was only resolved when FUFA offered a $6000 per player bonus for making it to the group of 16.
Uganda last reached the knockout stage of AFCON 41 years ago, at Ghana 1978.
“Uganda Cranes is not afraid of anyone. We shall enjoy the moment and take on Senegal. The most important thing is the game ahead of us. What happened before, we call it past. We have re-opened the engine once again,” Onyango said.
Here, AFP Sport looks at the two last-16 matches this Friday with Senegal and Morocco expected to beat Uganda and Benin respectively.
– Senegal v Uganda –
Senegal may top the African rankings, 58 places above Uganda, but coach Aliou Cisse has warned his star-stacked side against over-confidence.
“No one should take Uganda for granted and eliminating them will not be easy,” warned Cisse, one of the stars of the Teranga Lions team that reached the 2002 World Cup quarter-finals.
Mane echoed his coach, saying: “We saw the kind of football they played against Egypt. They are a good side and we will need to be at our best to beat them.”
Uganda had Egypt on the rack for more than half an hour before Salah scored and were equally impressive in the second half without being able to convert chances into goals.
“We have reached the second round, which was the minimum target set for us by the national federation, and anything can happen in knockout matches,” said coach Sebastien Desabre.
– Benin v Morocco –
Morocco have been clinical, determined and efficient so far in Egypt, mirroring the beliefs of Herve Renard, the only coach to win the Cup of Nations with two countries.
France-born Renard guided outsiders Zambia to the title in 2012 and repeated the feat with previous underachievers the Ivory Coast three years later.
“I did windows and carpets,” said Renard, referring to his job as a cleaner in Paris before turning to football.
He took Morocco to the 2017 quarter-finals in his first Cup of Nations with the Atlas Lions, and they, Algeria and Egypt won all three group matches this time.