Africa champions Nigeria rekindled the hopes of making it to next year’s Africa Cup of Nations championships after a classy display saw them beat Sudan 3-1 in a must-win match in Abuja.
The 2013 winners had to beat the North African nation but were made to wait for the opening goal which came three minutes into the second half through Ahmed Musa. However, their lead only lasted for 8 minutes with Salah Ibrahim drawing the visitors level in the 56th minute. The Super Eagles came close to extending the lead but were occasionally thwarted by Akram El Hadji in the Falcons of Jedaine’s goal. Aaron Samuel Olanare restored Nigeria’s lead ten minutes later before Musa settled the home team’s nerves with a third goal in the 90th minute. The win was Nigeria’s first in Group A helping them to move off the foot of the table and putting them right in the mix for qualification.
South Africa would have secured progress to the finals with a victory over Congo but were held to a frustrating barren draw by the visitors in a game of few clear-cut chances at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Cape Verde and 1990 winners Algeria, became the first nations to book their places at the 2015 championships in Morocco. Algeria made it four wins out of four in Group B after making light work of visiting Malawi. FC Porto midfielder Yacine Brahimi gave the Fennecses the lead inside two minutes with Riyad Mahrez making it 2-0 just before the interval. Islam Slimani’s 54th minute strike put the game to bed as Christian Gourcuff’s side made it to the finals with two games to spare. Ethiopia revenged their defeat against Mali beating The Eagles 3-2 in Bamako, Abebaw Batako with the winner in the final minute of normal time, a result that leaves the runners-up position open.
Cape Verde secured only their second ever appearance at the Cup of Nations after beating Mozambique 1-0. Heldon Ramos netted the only goal of the match with the Blues Sharks guaranteed at least the second slot irrespective of whether they lose their remaining two matches. Three second half goals by Zambia gave them a 3-0 win over Niger to move them second on the log. Rainford Kalaba and Emmanuel Mayuka netted before goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene converted an 87th minute penalty to give the Chipolopolo maximum points.
Cameroon took a huge step towards qualification from Group D after beating Sierra Leone 2-0 in Yaounde thanks to quick fire goals by Leonard Kweuke and captain Stephane Mbia who found the back of the net in the 2nd and 7th minute respectively. The Indomitable Lions could have entered the finals had Ivory Coast beaten DR Congo but The Elephants were shocked 4-3 in a game of fine strikes.
Ghana moved on top of a tight Group E after claiming a 3-1 win over Guinea. Asamoah Gyan opened the scoring for the Black Stars at the quarter hour mark but Mohamed Yattara equalized in the 34th minute. A Jordan Ayew penalty and Emmanuel Badu’s strike in stoppage time gave the 4-time champions the full points. Togo completed a home and away win over Uganda beating the East Africans 1-0, Serge Akakpo with the goal.
Angola thrashed Lesotho 4-0 while Burkina Faso and Gabon drew 1-1 in Group C. Ferjani Sassi scored with the last kick of the game for Tunisia in their 1-0 win over Senegal while Egypt ended Botswana’s qualifying campaign with a 2-0 win.
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