The World Cup qualifying series is approaching its climax, as the men are almost separated from the boys. We review what transpired in the rest of the African zone, where two of the continent’s expected five representatives emerged.
Nigeria became the first African nation to book her place at the 2018 mundial, with seven-time African champions, Egypt, also confirming an historic third appearance, after a 28-year wait.
The likes of Tunisia, Senegal and Morocco also took giant steps towards booking their places in Russia, after recording impressive wins.
Tunisia will have to wait until the final round of matches to know if they’d be going to the world cup, after Congo put any planned celebrations on hold.
The Carthage Eagles defeated Guinea 4-1, but Congo’s 2-1 win over Libya meant the Tunisians were made to postpone their celebrations for another month. However, the Eagles remain favourites to go through, as they currently top the group with thirteen points, three ahead of Congo, and face Libya next month with their destiny firmly in their own hands.
Two time AFCON winning coach, Renard Herve and his Morocco side shot to the summit of Group C after a 3-0 thumping of Gabon. Khalid Boutaib netted a perfect hat-trick to seal a win, which ensured the Moroccans are now perfectly placed heading into the final game next month, when they face Ivory Coast. The injury ravaged Ivorians were held to a goalless draw in Mali. Morocco travel to Abidjan to tackle Cote d’Ivoire knowing a draw will see them through to Russia. The hosts need a win.
Senegal took command of the group after seeing off Cape Verde Islands 2-0, while South Africa renewed their world cup hopes with a 3-1 defeat of Burkina Faso.
South Africa’s Bafana Bafana, who remain bottom of the group, on four points, however, face a double header against the Teranga Lions, currently two points clear at the top, next month, with one of the games being the replay of match day two as ordered by FIFA.
Burkina Faso and Cape Verde, who are both on six points apiece, aren’t out of it just yet, but their destinies don’t really depend on either sides. They both meet in the final game of the series, while Senegal and South Africa still have to face each other twice.
Mohammed Salah scored a brace, including the decisive penalty kick in stoppage time, with scores level following Arnold Bouka Moutou’s 88th minute equaliser for Congo, to end Egypt’s 28-year wait for a World Cup appearance.
The Ghanians went into their fifth qualifying game against Uganda with one win, two draws and a loss. Hence, needing a win to keep their qualification hopes alive but were unable to secure the win away in Kampala. They were held to a goalless draw by Uganda, which was marred by refereeing errors as Ghana were denied a penalty kick and a goal, which replays showed should have stood.
Guinea 1-4 Tunisia
Libya 1-2 Congo
Nigeria 1-0 Zambia
Cameroon 2-0 Algeria
Morocco 3-0 Gabon
Mali 0-0 CIV
Cape Verde 0-2 Senegal
S. Africa 3-1 B/Faso
Egypt 2-1 Congo
Uganda 0-0 Ghana