Two goal, three assists, one clean sheet and one red card were the tally for the 13 Roshn Saudi League players who represented their nations in Matchday One of the Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 which concluded on Wednesday.
The RSL contingent at AFCON 2023 got off to the perfect start inside the first five minutes of the tournament when Al Ahli’s Franck Kessie intercepted the ball deep inside Guinea-Bissau half and set-up Al Nassr’s Seko Fofana who advanced into the box and curled home the first goal of the tournament.
A second goal from Jean-Phillipe Krasso sealed a 2-0 victory for the tournament hosts who also featured Al Fayha left-back Ghislain Konan, while it was a disappointing night for Al Tai’s Alfa Semedo who captained Guinea-Bissau.
Following his recent recovery from injury, Al Ittihad defender Ahmed Hegazi completed all 90 minutes for Egypt as the record African champions left it late to earn a 2-2 draw against Mozambique thanks to an added-time Mohamed Salah penalty in Group B.
Meanwhile in Yamoussoukro, four RSL players started and two more came off the bench as Senegal defeated their neighbours The Gambia 3-0 in the opening match of Group C. Al Nassr’s Sadio Mane set-up Pape Alassane Gueye for Senegal’s opener inside four minutes.
With The Gambia down to ten men, Al Hilal centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly showed his passing range to start the attack that was finished by Lamine Camara for the first of his two goals in the second half.
Al Ahli’s Edouard Mendy played the 90 minutes for Senegal, while Al Shabab forward Habib Diallo started and was subbed off after 58 minutes. On the other side, Al Taawoun’s Musa Barrow played the full game, while Damac’s Assan Ceesay and Al Hazem’s Mohamed Badamosi came on as second-half subs for the Scorpions.
Elsewhere in Group C, Cameroon and Guinea shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw, in a game where three RSL players started and one more came off the bench. Asir derby rivals Georges-Kevin N’Koudou of Damac and Karl Toko Ekambi of Abha led the line for Cameroon with the former registering the assist for his side’s opener, while Abha’s Francois Kamano captained Guinea for 45 minutes before being sent-off in added time of the first half. Meanwhile, Al Raed defender Oumar Gonzalez was subbed on for the final 15 minutes for the Indomitable Lions.
In Group D, Al Ahli winger Riyad Mahrez captained Algeria as they started their journey with a 1-1 draw against Angola.
Al Shabab centre-back Romain Saiss carried his RSL goalscoring form into AFCON 2023, opening the scoring in a 3-1 victory for Morocco against Tanzania. The Atlas Lions’ captain pounced on the rebound after Hakim Ziyech’s initial effort from a free-kick was saved by the goalkeeper.