Thursday Nov 11, 2021. 23:08
South Africa and Benin took important steps toward advancing into the final round of African World Cup Qualifiers on Thursday, while Mali became the third team to clinch progression in the playoff phase.
Mali guaranteed top spot in Group E thanks to a 3-0 away win over 10-man Rwanda in Kigali in an early evening kick-off, with goals from Moussa Djenepo, Ibrahima Kone and Kalifa Coulibaly. The Amavubi were hamstrung from early on after Biziman Djihad was sent off within the opening 10 minutes.
Mali’s victory came in the wake of a 1-1 draw for Uganda at home to Kenya earlier in the day, with the Cranes needing a late equaliser from Fahad Bayo to cancel out an opener from Harambee Stars skipper Michael Olunga. Nonetheless, the result in Entebbe opened the door for the Eagles to join Senegal and Morocco in the next and final round.
In Group J, Benin kept themselves two points clear at the top of the standings with a 2-0 home win over Madagascar – thanks to goals from Jodel Dossou and Steve Mounie. DR Congo, though, remain in the hunt thanks to their impressive 3-0 away triumph in Dar es Salaam over Tanzania, with strikes from Gael Kakuta, Nathan Fasika and Ben Malango.
The Leopards will hope to leapfrog to the top of the table with a home win over the Squirrels in Kinshasa on Sunday, though the latter need only avoid defeat to head into the playoffs.
The same can be said for South Africa in their final match away to Ghana on Sunday, after they defeated Zimbabwe 1-0 in Johannesburg – courtesy of a goal from Teboho Mokoena – to open up a three-point lead at the top of Group G.
Ethiopia did SA a big favour earlier in the day by holding Ghana 1-1 at ‘home’ at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto, with Andre Ayew’s opener cancelled out by an equaliser from Getaneh Kebede.
Elsewhere, Group H saw already-qualified Senegal held 1-1 away to Togo in Lome (with a Papis Cisse own goal and equaliser from Habib Diallo at the death), while Congo and Namibia drew 1-1 in Brazzaville, with Peter Shalulile’s opener for the visitors cancelled out by Guy Mbenza.
The WCQ programme continues with six matches on Friday 12 November, headlined by Group A clashes for Burkina Faso (at home to Niger) and Algeria (away to Djibouti), as they look to keep pace with one another, as well as Egypt tacking Angola in Luanda and looking to seal qualification for the next round.
CAF WCQ results, Thursday 11 November
Ethiopia 1-1 Ghana
Tanzania 0-3 DR Congo
Uganda 1-1 Kenya
Benin 2-0 Madagascar
Congo 1-1 Namibia
Rwanda 0-3 Mali
South Africa 1-0 Zimbabwe
Togo 1-1 Senegal