Senegal claimed a 1-0 first leg victory over Mali on Wednesday as West African sides seek to secure a spot in the TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, Morocco 2022.
Both sides came into the match on a good run of form, with the Senegalese thrashing Liberia 8-2 on aggregate, while the Malians pipped Guinea to reach the second round of the ongoing qualifying series.
The seven-time WAFCON participants made promising start to the match as the anticipated favourites but they failed to convert their ball possession as the hosts put up a clinical display to ensure a goalless first half.
After the break, the Senegalese turned from their more laid-back game to an ambitious team on the night as they pushed to break the deadlock and later found a breakthrough courtesy of Nguenar Ndiaye’s 73rd minute finish.
In the final stages, numerous efforts made to bounce back by the 2018 WAFCON semifinalists were dashed by the hosts’ defense as they held on their nerve to clinch a narrow home win.
With the slim triumph at home, Senegal had done enough to gain a vital advantage ahead of the return leg on Tuesday, February 22 in Bamako, where Mali will seek to overturn the one-goal deficit.
As it stands, Senegal are inching closer to a return to the continental stage for the first time since 2012, while Mali are relishing their eighth and third consecutive appearance at the 12-nation competition.