Algeria, Cape Verde through to Nations Cup finals
16 October 2014, 08:00
Nairobi - The tiny Cape Verde Islands became the first country to book a place at next year's African Nations Cup finals and were joined by Algeria after Wednesday's round of qualifiers across the continent.
A 75th-minute goal from Heldon gave Cape Verde a 1-0 home win over Mozambique in Praia for their third victory in four games and a guaranteed a top-two finish in Group F while Algeria overcame Malawi 3-0 in Blida to keep up their 100 percent record in Group B.
Yacine Brahimi scored after only two minutes for Algeria and Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani added two more in a comfortable triumph that ensures their place at next January's finals in Morocco.
Cape Verde, with a population of less than 500,000, were surprise quarter-finalists at the last finals in South Africa and continued their remarkable rise with a competent showing in the qualifiers.
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Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia also had a chance to secure qualification on a busy day of action, but must wait until the next round of qualifiers in November.
Cameroon scored twice in the opening seven minutes to beat Sierra Leone 2-0 in Yaounde and top Group D, but would only have been sure of progressing to the finals had the Ivorians beaten the Democratic Republic of Congo in Abidjan later on Wednesday.
Instead the Congolese produced a surprise triumph in a seven-goal thriller, scoring a late winner through Jeremy Bokila.
Debutant sent off
The Ivorians, whose first goal came from Yaya Toure, fought back from 3-1 down at halftime.
They had debutant defender Franck Kessie sent off minutes into the second half, but levelled the game at 3-3 after a quick double from Salomon Kalou, before DR Congo's Bokila scored his second of the night to secure a shock three points.
Tunisia beat Senegal with a goal five minutes into stoppage time from substitute Sassi Ferjani, but a 2-0 victory for Egypt over Botswana in Cairo means Group G is also not yet settled. Had Egypt failed to win, both Senegal and Tunisia could have progressed.
South Africa would have booked their finals place if they had beaten Congo at home in Polokwane, but were held to a goalless draw in a match played in heavy rain.
Gabon, despite an early dismissal, stayed top of Group C after a 1-1 draw in Burkina Faso, while Ghana top Group E after a 3-1 triumph over Guinea in Tamale. Asamoah Gyan, Dede Ayew and substitute Edward Agyemang Badu all scored for the Black Stars.
Ahmed Musa netted twice for holders Nigeria to win their first game of the qualifying campaign, as they beat Sudan 3-1 to resurrect their Group A hopes.
The 2012 winners Zambia also got a first victory as they overcame Niger 3-0 while Angola's 4-0 thrashing of Lesotho was the most convincing scoreline of the day.
The top two finishers in each of the seven groups qualify for the finals along with the best third placed finisher. The finals are set for Jan. 17-Feb.8.