Senegal and Madagascar draw in tragic Africa Cup of Nations game

Sadio Mane, pictured here at the World Cup in Russia, played for Senegal in the match in Madagascar marred by tragedy

At least one person was killed and nearly 40 were injured in a stampede ahead of an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier Sunday in which Madagascar hit back twice to draw 2-2 with Senegal.

The casualty figures were confirmed by the director of a hospital in the Malagasy capital Antananarivo, where the Group A match was staged in the 30,000-capacity Mahamasina Stadium.

Witnesses told AFP there was a stampede at an entrance to the venue just before the 1130 GMT (2:30pm local time) kick-off.

One person was killed and 37 injured, including two who were said to be in a serious condition with head and chest injuries.

Fans had queued outside the stadium nine hours before the start of the eagerly-awaited match with Liverpool star Sadio Mane in the line-up of 2018 World Cup qualifiers Senegal.

The result left Senegal and Madagascar -- who lie 83 places below their opponents in the world rankings -- as co-Group A leaders with four points each after two rounds.

Senegal beat Equatorial Guinea 3-0 in the first round 15 months ago while consistently improving Madagascar triumphed 3-1 in Sudan.

Moussa Konate volleyed the visitors into a 27th-minute lead in Antananarivo and Paulin Voavy levelled a minute before half-time by scoring in a goalmouth scramble.

Keita Balde put Senegal ahead again on 62 minutes with a shot into the corner after a solo run only for Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly to concede an own-goal five minutes later.

Mane, who scored his fourth goal of the season for Liverpool in a win at Leicester City last weekend, was well policed by the Malagasy defence.

On Saturday, Equatorial Guinea edged Sudan 1-0 in Malabo through an Emilio Nsue goal in the other Group A match.

Senegal were the only 2018 World Cup qualifiers from Africa not to win this weekend, but they had the toughest task of the five sides who all made first-round exits from Russia.

- Punished sloppy defending -

After Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria won convincingly Saturday, Tunisia punished sloppy defending by eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) 24 hours later for a 2-0 victory in Manzini.

Taha Yassine Khenissi netted on 17 minutes and Naim Sliti doubled the lead before half-time for a country whose lone Cup of Nations title came as hosts 14 years ago.

In a lively finish, eSwatini substitute Phiwayinkosi Dlamini struck the woodwork and Tunisia captain Wahbi Khazri had a timidly-struck penalty saved.

Tunisia top Group J with a maximum six points, record seven-time African champions Egypt have three and eSwatini and Niger one each.

Former champions the Ivory Coast got back on the winning trail in Group H by edging Rwanda 2-1 in Kigali thanks to goals from Jonathan Kodjia and Max-Alain Gradel.

Meddie Kagere halved the deficit midway through the second half to set up a tense climax for Ivorian Ibrahim Kamara, one of more than a dozen coaches making Cup of Nations debuts.

Guinea, who inflicted a shock matchday 1 defeat on the Ivory Coast, remained three points clear in Group H by pipping the Central African Republic 1-0 in Conakry.

Recent Liverpool midfield recruit Naby Keita set up the Guinean goal after 71 minutes for Serbia-based Seydouba Soumah.

Zimbabwe star Khama Billiat scored and sulked as his country drew 1-1 away against Congo to remain Group G leaders on goal difference from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Billiat put the visitors ahead on 22 minutes, but was yellow-carded for time wasting as he took too long to leave the pitch after a substitution he did not approve of.

DR Congo left it late to draw 1-1 with lower ranked Liberia 1-1 in Monrovia, equalising eight minutes from time through Elia Meschak after William Jebor scored for the home side.

Group winners and runners-up qualify for the 2019 Cup of Nations in Cameroon, which will be the first to feature 24 nations, up from 16 last year.