Holders Senegal through to Cup of Nations finals
CAPE TOWN : Defending champions Senegal, Burkina Faso, South Africa and Tunisia added their names to the list of qualified teams for next year’s African Cup of Nations finals after away successes in Tuesday’s qualifiers.
Senegal, who won the tournament in Cameroon some 14 months ago, beat Mozambique 1-0 away to keep up their 100 per cent record and secure top spot in Group L while a point away for Burkina Faso at Togo in a 1-1 draw was enough for them to progress from Group B.
South Africa scrambled a 2-1 away win over Liberia to join Morocco, who qualified without kicking a ball last week, from Group K.
Tunisia ensured a top-two finish in Group J as Haithem Jouini scored the only goal away against neighbours Libya in Benghazi, where frustrated home fans rained down an assortment of bottles onto the pitch in the final 10 minutes to leave it looking like a battle zone.
Algeria are the other country to have secured qualification, which they did on Monday by beating Niger, along with hosts Ivory Coast.
Mohamed Salah scored as Egypt won 4-0 away in Malawi to take the Group D lead, but there was an embarrassing defeat for Cameroon away against Namibia.
The Cape Verde Islands, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia and Uganda also won on Tuesday to stay in contention.
Boulaye Dia scored Senegal’s goal in the 18th minute in Maputo to earn them the chance to defend their title in the Ivory Coast next January.
South Africa had thrown away a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw against Liberia at home last Friday but their 2-1 win in Monrovia on Tuesday guarantees them a top-two finish and eliminates Liberia.
Namibia captain Peter Shalulile scored on a rebound and Absalom Iimbondi’s free kick went through a porous Cameroon wall to earn the southern African country a famous win over the five-time African champions.
Cameroon could only respond with a late consolation from Vincent Aboubakar but will still qualify if they win against Burundi at home in their last qualifier in September.
Gambia’s 1-0 win over Mali, with a late goal from defender Omar Colley, kept them in contention to qualify again. Their debut performance at the last finals in Cameroon saw them reach the quarter-finals.
The top two finishers in all 12 groups qualify, except Group H where hosts Ivory Coast are competing. Only one other country besides the Ivorians will advance from that group.
The next and penultimate round of qualifiers is scheduled for June.
(Editing by Toby Davis)