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Senegal and Madagascar draw in tragic Africa Cup of Nations game

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.

Malagasy supporters cheer during the Africa Cup of Nations 2019 qualifier Madagascar v Senegal on 9 September 2018 in Antananarivo, Madagascar. Picture: AFP

ANTANANARIVO, MADAGASCAR - 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.