English Premier League pair Diafra Sakho and Sadio Mane played key roles as Senegal defeated South Africa 2-0 in Polokwane Friday to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
West Ham striker Sakho opened the scoring off a pass from Liverpool attacker Mane and both were involved in the move that led to a Thamsanqa Mkhize own-goal before half-time.
Victory gave Senegal an uncatchable five-point lead over Burkina Faso and Cape Verde in Group D with one round left.
The only previous World Cup appearance by Senegal was in 2002 when current coach Aliou Cisse captained a team that reached the quarter-finals in South Korea and Japan.
Bottom-of-the-table South Africa lie seven points behind Senegal ahead of a return match in Dakar next Tuesday, with Burkina Faso hosting Cape Verde at the same time.
South Africa defeated Senegal 2-1 in Polokwane last November, but FIFA ordered a replay because of “match manipulation” by Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey, who was banned for life.
“It was not an easy game for us, but we took the chances that came our way,” said Mane, who returned to Premier League action last Saturday after a hamstring injury.
“Our coach stressed before the match the importance of qualifying for the World Cup and we gave everything throughout the match.
“We are going to represent all of Africa in Russia next year and will do our best to make everyone proud.”
Senegal are the third African qualifiers for the World Cup in Russia after Nigeria and Egypt, who secured places during the penultimate qualifying round last month.