Kelechi Iheanacho struck a dramatic 95th minute winner to help Africa’s largest nation by population, Nigeria, beat Sierra Leone 3-2 in the penultimate round of qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast. A brace from the Super Eagles’ £100m striker Victor Osimhen had set them on their way before Sierra Leone levelled with strikes either side of the breather. Iheanacho’s late intervention saw the three time African champs book a slot in next January’s event as group A winners. Guinea Bissau had earlier qualified from the same group after toppling Sao Tome and Principe 1-0.
Egypt, Cape Verde, Zambia, Equatorial Guinea and and Mozambique also earned berths in the event slated for January 13 to February 11, 2024. Goals from Mohamed Trezeguet and Mustafa Mohamed powered Rui Vitoria’s Pharaohs past Kaba Diawara’s Guinea 2-1 to earn the seven time African champions first place in group D. Serhou Guirassy replied for Guinea who can confirm qualification if Ethiopia fail to overcome Malawi in the other group game on Tuesday.
Zambia’s Chipolopolo embarrassed hosts Ivory Coast 3-0 in Ndola to take charge of their qualification destiny. An Ivory Coast outfit featuring Barcelona’s Frank Kessie, Manchester United’s want away defender Eric Bailly and PSV Eindhoven midfield powerhouse Ibrahim Sangare failed to get out of second gear as Avram Grant’s 2012 winners made light work of the Elephants. Comoros toppled Lesotho 1-0 in group H’s other rubber.
Emiliano Nsue’s 85th minute winner was the difference as Equatorial Guinea torpedoed 1996 champions Tunisia 1-0 to confirm qualification as group J winners. The Carthage Eagles also earned a berth at AFCON 2023 after Botswana’s 1-0 victory over Libya’s Mediterranean Knights meant they have an unassailable six point advantage over the chasing pack. They were joined in Ivory Coast by Mozambique who overcame Rwanda’s Amavubi Stars 2-0.
Four time winners Ghana were held to a goalless draw by Madagascar in Antananarivo postponing their qualification to the final day. The Black Stars still lead group E with 9 points, just one more than Angola who overcame Central African Republic 2-1. The CAR can still qualify if they upset Ghana in Kumasi in the final round of qualifiers as they sit just two points adrift of the group leaders.
Group I is even trickier following 1968 and 1972 champions Democratic Republic of Congo’s upset 2-0 victory over Gabon in Libreville. The Simbas, who were Africa’s first ever World Cup representatives in 1974, lead the standings on goal difference from Gabon ahead of tomorrow’s meeting between Sudan and Mauritania.
Algeria are the only side with a one hundred percent record in the qualifiers. The Desert Fenecs’ 2-1 victory over Uganda Cranes courteous of goals from Mohamed Amoura took the 1990 champions to 16 points. Simon Msuva netted the only goal as Tanzania took charge of their own qualification destiny with a 1-0 victory over Niger at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam.