Mozambique, Mauritania & DRC claim AFCON berths

Mozambique, Mauritania & DRC claim AFCON berths
Mozambique players celebrate winning goal scored by Clesio Palmirim David Bauque of Mozambique during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers game between Mozambique and Benin at Estadio do Zampeto in Maputo, Mozambique on 9 September 2023 © Jaime Machel Colega/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Saturday Sep 09, 2023. 23:14

Mozambique, Mauritania and DR Congo became the 19th, 20th and 21st teams to claim their berths at the next Africa Cup of Nations, following a busy Saturday of qualifying action across the continent.

The afternoon focus fell on Estadio do Zimpeto in Maputo, where Mozambique defeated Benin 3-2 to secure their return to the AFCON for the first time since 2010.

Needing to avoid defeat to finish second in Group L behind reigning African champions Senegal, the Mambas were behind early on to a Steve Mounie penalty, but goals from Witi and Ricardo Guimaraes put them 2-1 up through the first half.

The Cheetahs, however, struck back early in the second via Jodel Dossou and had the hosts biting their nails right up to injury time, when Celsio Bauque struck home the winner to calm the home nation’s nerves.

The afternoon also saw Malawi and Guinea play to a 2-2 draw in their Group D dead-rubber in Lilongwe. The Flames scored first via Robert Saizi midway through the first half, only for the Syli National to enjoy a 2-1 advantage by the hour mark thanks to strikes from Aguibou Camara and Saidou Sow. Yet Malawi struck back late on through Lawrence Chaziya to secure a share of the spoils.

In the early-evening games, the focus was squarely on Group I, where DR Congo and Mauritania secured passage to the AFCON finals.

Mauritania claimed a dramatic 2-1 win over Gabon in Nouakchott to qualify for the third successive time. The match featured two red cards, but ultimately saw the Lions of Chinguetti triumph on the back of first-half goals from Hemeya Tanjy and Aboubakar Kamara.

In Kinshasa, DR Congo secured a return to the continental finals (having missed the last edition in neighbouring Cameroon) with a 2-0 triumph over Sudan. Goals from Theo Bongonda and Fiston Mayele, early and late in the game respectively, ensured that the Leopards finished top of the table ahead of Mauritania.

Elsewhere in the early evening, Ivory Coast wrapped up their Group H campaign with a 1-0 home win over Lesotho in San Pedro (thanks to Ibrahim Sangare’s first-half strike), while the night match from the same group saw Zambia fight back from a goal down to hold Comoros 1-1 in Moroni and claim top spot on the standings. Patson Daka’s second-half equaliser cancelled out Benjaloud Youssouf’s opener on the stroke of half time.

In Diamniadio, reigning African champions Senegal completed their successful Group I campaign with a 1-1 draw against Rwanda, as Lamine Camara’s strike midway through the second half was cancelled out by a leveller deep in injury time from Olivier Niyonzima.

The scheduled Group K match between Morocco and Liberia was postponed due to the earthquake which struck in the North Africa country on Friday night.

The AFCON qualifiers will continue on Sunday 10 September with three matches: Nigeria v Sao Tome and Principe, Togo v Cape Verde and Gambia v Congo.

AFCON qualifiers results, Saturday 9 September

Malawi 2-2 Guinea

Mozambique 3-2 Benin

DR Congo 2-0 Sudan

Ivory Coast 1-0 Lesotho

Mauritania 2-1 Gabon

Comoros 1-1 Zambia

Senegal 1-1 Rwanda

Morocco v Liberia – Postponed

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