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Hot shot... Sadio Mane in action during the CAN 2022 qualifier against Benin. Image Credit: AFP

Cape Town: Sadio Mane scored a hat-trick as Senegal made a successful start to the defence of their Africa Cup of Nations crown with a 3-1 home victory over Benin on Saturday in their first qualifier for the next finals in 2023.

Mane, whose club future is in doubt after he suggested to reporters on Friday he might be leaving Liverpool, netted two penalties in his hat-trick as Senegal made light work of their visitors in the Group L encounter.

Easy win

Mane had teased at the pre-match news conference that he would be leaving Liveroool, added to growing speculation about a move away from Anfield, but put all of that behind him as he led Senegal to a comfortable win, made easier when Benin had Sessi dAlmeida sent off early in the second half.

But the visitors did manage a late consolation from substitute Junior Olaitan.