Senegal forward Sadio Mane was awarded man-of-the-match in their Group “C” encounter with Kenya, but if results had been the other way that award would surely have gone to Harambee Stars goalkeeper Patrick Matasi.
Matasi had a massive game pulling off several spectacular saves, but in vain.
The most notable was diving to hold on to Mane’s penalty kick in the 27th minute and almost denying the Liverpool marksman another penalty kick midway through the second half.
Matasi revealed how he stopped Mane’s first spot kick.
“The moment he put the ball down and I looked in his eyes I knew where he was going to hit the ball and I saved it. Even the second penalty, the way he stood I knew which direction he was going to place the ball. You saw, I dived in the right direction but could not reach the ball.”
Matasi also bravely charged out to deny Idrissa Gueye at near point blank range and then showed the agility of a monkey to leap at full stretch and scoop away Rennes striker’s Ismaila Sarr’s beautiful header.
Matasi though may be faulted for the first two goals Kenya conceded, mistiming a cross he should never have tried to claim in the first instance, and completely miscommunicating with last man Musa Mohammed with a dangerous high ball to deal with.
But in the end, he was Kenya’s man-of-the-match and kept his team in the game, at least those promising first 60 minutes.