Senegal booked a ticket to the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Friday following a 2-0 away win over South Africa in African qualifying Group D.
The match was an ordered replay of the November 12, 2016 encounter, which had seen the Bafana Bafana beat the Teranga Lions 2-1. The referee at the center of that match, Ghanaian Joseph Lamptey, was handed a lifetime ban for match manipulation.
With at least a draw guaranteeing a spot in Russia, the 2002 quarter-finalists defied the home support, which appeared dispirited at the Peter Mokaba Stadium, to achieve their set target.
West Ham United’s Diafra Sakho opened the scoring at Polokwane after being sent through by star man Sadio Mane.
An own goal by Thamsanqa Mkhize summed up the frustrations of Stuart Baxter’s side.
With a game against the same side on Tuesday to spare, the Lions have 11 points at the top of the group followed by Burkina Faso (6), Cape Verde (6) and South Africa (4) in that order.
Senegal will, therefore, return to the global showpiece for the second time after a sterling first appearance in Korea/Japan 2002, where they fell to Turkey in the quarter-finals.
With the Lions sealing qualification, two slots are left to be picked in Africa as Nigeria and Egypt already made it in the penultimate round of qualifiers.
Tunisia appear the most likely to join the three while Morocco and La Cote d’Ivoire battle in Abidjan on Saturday for the final slot.
By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh|3news.com|Ghana