Football

Mali and Tunisia clinch Afcon places

Mali ensured their place at an eighth consecutive Nations Cup finals with narrow hard-fought 2-1 win over hosts Namibia.

All three goals of Tuesday’s Group A encounter came in the opening 40 minutes of the game as Mali had a penalty saved in the second-half and Namibia hitting the post.

Red Bull Salzburg’s Sekou Koita scored after just 12 minutes for Mali as he drove forward to the edge of the area before firing a powerful shot past keeper Virgil Vries in to the top corner.

Vries was at fault for the second goal as Moussa Doumbia cut into the area and fired in a shot from a tight angle that beat the keeper at his near post.

Two minutes later Namibia pulled a goal back as Elmo Kambindu rose at the far post to head home a free-kick from Absalom Limbondi.

Both teams battled to score again after the break and Mali should have added a third from the penalty spot but Vries went the right way and saved El Bilal Toure’s effort. The penalty had been awarded for a clumsy challenge on Doumbia by subsitute Riaan Hanamub.

The Namibian almost made amends late on with a fierce shot that had beaten the Mali keeper but not the post.

Mali’s win takes them to 10 points, two ahead of second-placed Guinea with Namibia on three and still with a mathematical chance of grabbing second place.

However Chad, despite earning their first point of the campaign in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Guinea, cannot now qualify for the finals.

Tanzania 1-1 Tunisia (Group J)

Marseille and Tunisia's Seifeddine Khaoui
Marseille’s Seifeddine Khaoui was on target for Tunisia against Tazania

Tunisia earned their place at the Nations Cup finals despite being held in Dar es Salaam by hosts Tanzania.

The Carthage Eagles dominated the opening exchanges and hit the woodwork either side of their goal.

Tunisia took the lead after just 11 minutes through Seifeddine Khaoui of Marseille with a truly excellent finish after he was put through by a lovely piece of skill from Youssef Msakni.

With Tanzania struggling in front their fans at the Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium it looked like Tunisia would win easily.

Things changed just two minutes after the break as substitute Feisal Salum found the target with a stunning hit from just outside the area.

Tanzania improved in the second half and both teams had their chances but it remained deadlocked at 1-1.

The draw was enough for Tunisia to confirm their place in Cameroon as they are now guaranteed a top-two finish, thanks to their 1-0 win over Tanzania last Friday which guarantees the Carthage Eagles a better head-to-head record over the Taifa Stars.

Tanzania are in third place on four points, two behind Equatorial Guinea in second place with Libya still in with a chance despite being bottom on three points.

Sudan 1-0 Ghana (Group C)

Sudan's French coach Hubert Velud
French coach Hubert Velud led Sudan to a 1-0 win over Ghana

Sudan scored a last-gasp winner to edge past visiting Ghana in Group C of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on Tuesday.

The result means that Ghana will have to wait to qualify for the finals having started the day knowing a draw would see them progress.

The game at the Al Hilal stadium in Omdurman was a physical affair with both sides picking up two yellow cards each in a goalless first-half.

Ghana were playing without their injured captain Andre Ayew, who scored both the Black Stars goals in the 2-0 win over the same opponents on Thursday, as well as suspended first-choice keeper Richard Ofori.

Their replacements both played their part with Caleb Ekuban causing trouble for the Sudanese defence and Fatua Dauda making some crucial saves at the other end.

With time running out the Black Stars looked happy to play for the draw but Sudan never gave up and scored in the second minute of time added on.

Ramadan Agab swung over a cross from the right which was met by Mohamed Abdelrahman and his firm header gave Dauda no chance.

That result means that Ghana stay on nine points level with South Africa as Sudan move to six points with all three still looking for a place at the finals.

The other team in the group are Sao Tome, who are yet to win a single point after their 4-2 loss to South Africa on Monday.

Central African Republic 0-2 Morocco (Group E)

Morocco's Hakim Ziyech in action for Chelsea
Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech scored one and set-up the other for Morocco as they beat CAR 2-0

Morocco remained unbeaten in Group E with a 2-0 win over Central African Republic, in a game that was played in the Cameroonian city of Douala because there is not a suitable stadium in Bangui.

Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech scored six minutes before half-time as he floated in a freekick from the right-hand side, Nayef Aguerd rose as if to head the ball but it evaded everyone to end up in the back of the net.

Ziyech then turned provider for the second goal which was scored in injury time, as he squared the ball for Youssef En Neysri to put into an empty net after a ruthlessly fast counter attack by the Atlas Lions.

The result means that Morocco are top of the group with 10 points and need only a draw from their final two games to qualify for the finals.

The other place is wide open with Mauritania on five points after Sunday’s 3-1 loss in Burundi, who have four points and CAR stay on three.

Sierra Leone 0-0 Nigeria; Lesotho 0-0 Benin (Group L)

Tuesday’s two games in Group L failed to produce a single goal as Nigeria were once again held by Sierra Leone.

The Leone Stars had pulled off a remarkable comeback on Friday to come from four goals down to earn a 4-4 draw.

Despite that result the Super Eagles could have clinched a place in the finals with a win in Freetown.

The results mean that Nigeria are still top of the group with eight points, that’s just one ahead of Benin.

Sierra Leone edge into third place on three points and Lesotho are bottom on two, but both of those sides are still in with a chance of reaching the finals in Cameroon.

Togo 1-3 Egypt (Group G)

Egypt's Trezeguet in action for Aston Villa
Aston Villa’s Trezeguet helped Egypt beat Togo

Egypt moved ahead of Comoros on goal difference thanks to a 3-1 win in Togo, who are now out of contention.

The Pharaohs’ first goal came against the run of play in the 18th minute and came thanks to a touch of class from Mohamed Magdi, as he stole into the area and squared the keeper up before scoring into the right-hand corner.

The second came just after the half-hour mark as debutant Mohamed Sherif pounced on a poor back-header from Djene Dakonam to score.

The win was effectively sealed in the 52nd minute as a free kick from the Egypt left was allowed to bounce all the way over the Togo defence, leaving Trezeguet all the time he needed to connect with it with his right foot.

Togo’s consolation came in injury time from a corner that was not properly cleared allowing Elom Nya-Vedji to slam the ball home.

That result means that Egypt and Comoros both have eight points and look the most likely to reach the finals.

Kenya, who suffered a shock 2-1 loss in Comoros on Sunday have three points and are the only other team who can qualify from the group, with games against Egypt and Togo left to play.

Madagascar 1-1 Ivory Coast; Ethiopia 3-0 Niger (Group K)

Ivory Coast's Franck Kessie celebrates a goal for his Italian club AC Milan
AC Milan’s Franck Kessie scored a penalty for Ivory Coast in Madagascar

The fourth round of matches in Group K have left this one wide open as neither Madagascar nor Ivory Coast could open up a lead at the top and Ethiopia moved closer to the top two.

Ivory Coast took the lead in Madagascar after just 15 minutes as AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie scored from the penalty spot after a handball by Jeremy Morel.

A formidable shot gave Madagascar an equaliser six minutes after half-time as captain Ibrahim Samuel Amada scored with a thundering strike from the left hand corner of the area which found the top right hand corner of the net.

The game in Ethiopia was delayed by half-an-hour with no official reason given but it did not affect the hosts who took the lead against Niger through Amanuel Gebremikael after just 13 minutes.

The goal was created after some good work in the midfield resulted in the unmarked Shemeles Bekele getting the ball inside the box and his pass was met by Gebremikael’s left foot.

The hosts took control of the game just before half-time with Bekele again providing the final pass for Mesud Mohammed to strike into the top corner from 16 metres out.

The win was wrapped up with 20 minutes left to play as a poor pass from Niger keeper Moussa Alzouma hit his own defender giving Getaneh Kabede an easy chance to score.

With two matches left to play Ivory Coast top the pool thanks to a better head-to-head record over Madagascar, both teams have seven points, Ethiopia move to six and Niger stay on three.

Angola 0-1 DR Congo (Group D)

Fulham and DR Congo's Neeskens Kebano
Fulham’s Neeskens Kebano scored the only goal of the game for DR Congo against Angola

DR Congo moved closer to the top two in this group with a narrow win in neighbouring Angola.

Fulham midfielder Neeskens Kebano scored the only goal of the game just after the hour mark with a well taken effort from well outside the area.

The Gambia top the group ahead of Gabon on goal difference, with both teams on seven points, after the Scorpions 2-1 win over the Panthers on Monday.

DR Congo move to within in a point of the top two while Angola have just one point, but still have a mathematical chance of qualifying for the finals.

Rwanda 0-0 Cape Verde (Group F)

Rwanda held on for a point against visiting Cape Verde despite playing an hour with 10 men.

Amavubi were at a disadvantage for most of the match after the dismissal of Ally Niyonzima for a second yellow card after 30 minutes.

With only one place up for grabs from the group as Cameroon qualify automatically as hosts the race for the remaining spot is still wide open.

Cape Verde now move level with Mozambique in the group on four points and despite Rwanda having just two so far they are still in with a chance of reaching the finals.

Tuesday’s Afcon 2021 qualifiers:

  • Ethiopia 3-0 Niger (Grp K)
  • Madagascar 1-1 Ivory Coast (Grp K)
  • Lesotho 0-0 Benin (Grp L)
  • Rwanda 0-0 Cape Verde (Grp F)
  • Sudan 1-0 Ghana (Grp C)
  • Central Africa 0-2 Morocco (Grp E)
  • Angola 0-1 DR Congo (Grp D)
  • Sierra Leone 0-0 Nigeria (Grp L)
  • Togo 1-3 Egypt (Grp G)
  • Namibia 1-2 Mali (Grp A)
  • Tanzania 1-1 Tunisia (Grp J)

Monday’s results:

  • Eswatini 0-0 Congo (Grp I)
  • Malawi 0-0 Burkina Faso (Grp B)
  • South Sudan 1-0 Uganda (Grp B)
  • Sao Tome and Principe 2-4 South Africa (Grp C)
  • Zimbabwe 2-2 Algeria (Grp H)
  • Botswana 1-0 Zambia (Grp H)
  • The Gambia 2-1 Gabon (Grp D)
  • Mozambique 2-0 Cameroon (Grp F)

Sunday’s results:

  • Equatorial Guinea 1-0 Libya (Grp J)
  • Chad 1-1 Guinea (Grp A)
  • Comoros 2-1 Kenya (Grp G)
  • Guinea Bissau 0-1 Senegal (Grp I)
  • Burundi 3-1 Mauritania (Grp E)