Sadio Mane celebrated his 100th Senegal appearance by scoring twice in a 4-0 World Cup qualifying victory over South Sudan in an empty stadium near Dakar on Saturday.
L’hommage à Sadio Mane en début de match pour sa 100e 🎥🇸🇳🏿
— 𝗝𝗼𝘂𝗲𝘂𝗿𝘀 𝗦𝗲́𝗻𝗲́𝗴𝗮𝗹𝗮𝗶𝘀 🇸🇳 (@JoueursSN) November 18, 2023
The Saudi Arabia-based forward, who has been voted African Footballer of the Year twice, also created a goal in the Group B first round match before being substituted.
— CAF (@CAF_Online) November 18, 2023
Success took reigning African champions Senegal to the top of the group, ahead of the Democratic Republic of Congo on goal difference, as they seek a third straight World Cup appearance in 2026.
The only disappointment for Mane and his teammates was that the match had to be staged behind closed doors after crowd trouble in a game against Egypt last year.
Mane set up Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Pape Sarr to score just 37 seconds into the first half with a low shot past South Sudan goalkeeper Majak Mawith.
He scored himself five minutes later, running on to a back heel from Habib Diallo and shrugging off shirt pulling by an opponent to fire home from close range.
Mawith, one of several Australia-based players in the South Sudan side, was beaten again in the final minute of the opening half as Lamine Camara fired into the net.
Mane completed the scoring on 56 minutes by converting a penalty in the last of 26 matchday one fixtures in Africa.
There should have been 27 matches, but Eritrea withdrew without giving an explanation, leaving shock 2022 World Cup semi-finalists Morocco with a Group E bye.
Morocco will be away on Tuesday to Tanzania, who began their campaign with a 1-0 win over Niger through a 56th-minute goal from debutant Charles M’Mombwa.
Tanzania trail Zambia, who defeated Congo Brazzaville 4-2 on Friday, on goal difference in a group Morocco are expected to dominate.
South Africa, whose last World Cup appearance was 13 years ago as hosts, went to the top of Group C with a laboured 2-1 win over Benin in Durban.
Goals early and late in the first half from Percy Tau and Khuliso Mudau gave Bafana Bafana (The Boys) a two-goal half-time advantage.
But they failed to build the lead in a scrappy second half and Benin captain Steve Mounie set up a tense finish by halving the deficit 20 minutes from time.
The second round kicks off on Sunday with former World Cup qualifiers Algeria, DR Congo, Egypt and Nigeria among 10 teams in action.
© Agence France-Presse