African Nations Cup qualifiers surprise

2016-09-07 06:00

UGANDA ended an almost four-decade wait for a place in the African Nations Cup finals as Farouk Miya struck home the only goal to beat the Comoros Islands with 1-0 in Kampala on Sunday (04/09) and ensure qualification for next year’s tournament.

Uganda finished second behind Burkina Faso in their group, but took one of the two places reserved for the runners-up in the 13 qualifying groups.

They last played at the Nations Cup in 1978 when they were beaten in the final by hosts Ghana.

A last-minute winner from Banou Diawara ensured Burkina topped Group D with a 2-1 home victory over the nine-man Botswana team as they teetered on the brink of elimination.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, Togo and Tunisia filled the other three berths decided on the last day of the qualifiers.

Ten countries had already booked their places after the penultimate round of matches in June and holders Ivory Coast were the 11th to qualify, when they drew by 1-1 at home with Sierra Leone on Saturday (03/09).

Togo was the other country to take a runners-up berth, edging out Benin and Ethiopia, who also finished on 11 points. A 5-0 home win over Djibouti on Sunday (04/09) ensured Togo had the better goal difference, despite Emmanuel Adebayor missing a penalty.

The Congolese needed only draw at home to the Central African Republic, who had to win, but made sure they finished first in Group B with an emphatic 4-1 triumph in Kinshasa.

Neeskens Kebano, Firmin Mubele, Mpangi Bolingi and Jordan Botaka were the scorers for the hosts. An early goal from Wahbi Khazri set Tunisia on their way to a 4-1 win over Liberia in Monastir which ensured top place in Group A. The home side also converted two penalties.

Already qualified Mali finished their campaign unbeaten with a 5-2 home triumph over Benin, as did Algeria and Morocco against lightweight opposition. Morocco were expecting a goal feast against the tiny island nation of Sao Tome and Principe, but mustered only a 2-0 win in Rabat after being jeered off at the end of a goalless first half by their own fans.

Riyad Mahrez, who hammered home a long-range free kick, and El Arabi Soudani scored twice each as Algeria hammered Lesotho 6-0 with Soudani increasing his tally in the qualifiers to seven and finishing top scorer.

The Nations Cup finals will be held in Gabon from 14 January to 5 February 2017. – eNCA

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