Thursday Sep 07, 2023. 23:17
Thursday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifying action was headlined by Ghana, Angola and Tanzania becoming the 16th, 17th and 18th teams to secure a place at the tournament in Ivory Coast next year.
In the early evening kick-offs, Ghana defeated the Central African Republic 2-1 in Kumasi to finish top of Group E, while Angola were runners-up thanks to a stolid 0-0 draw at home to Madagascar in Lubango.
The Black Stars looked under threat when the Wild Beasts’ Louis Mafouta put the visitors ahead midway through the first half, but new West Ham United signing Mohammed Kudus struck direct from a free kick shortly before the interval, and a late tap-in from Ernest Appiah secured a deserved but hard-earned victory for Chris Hughton’s team.
Ghana, four-time AFCON champs, will be appearing at the tournament for a 10th successive time and a 24th overall, while the Palancas Negras return to the continental championship for the first time since 2019 and a ninth overall.
In the late trio of matches, the focus was on the battle between East African sides Tanzania and Uganda to join Algeria in qualifying from Group F.
The Taifa Stars ultimately claimed a berth at the finals thanks to a determined 0-0 draw away to group winners Algeria in Annaba, rendering Uganda’s 2-0 win (courtesy of goals from Azizi Kayondo and Joseph Ochaya) over Niger in Marrakesh academic.
Tanzania return to the Nations Cup for the first time since 2019 and will make a third appearance overall.
The other night match was a dead-rubber from Group J which saw already-qualified Tunisia defeat already-eliminated Botswana 3-0 in Tunis, thanks to an own goal from Alford Velaphi and a late brace from Youssef Msakni. The result saw the Cartage Eagles claim top spot in the group from fellow qualifiers Equatorial Guinea.
The AFCON qualifiers will continue on Friday 8 September with three dead-rubbers: Egypt v Ethiopia, Burkina Faso v Eswatini and Mali v South Sudan.
AFCON qualifiers results, Thursday 7 September
Angola 0-0 Madagascar
Ghana 2-1 Central African Republic
Algeria 0-0 Tanzania
Niger 0-2 Uganda
Tunisia 3-0 Botswana