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2019 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers

AFCON 2019 Qualifiers Weekend Roundup (Part One)

A roundup of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers played over the weekend across the continent.

The race for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations to be staged in Cameroon entered day two of the group stage matches with several matches played across the continent.

A total of 12 matches were played in Group A, D, E, F, I, L with Ghana, Sudan and Burkina Faso starting to stunning defeats as the continental favourites struggling to impress.

Recently high riding Sudan were not spared the second round blushes as they fell 0-1 to Equatorial Guinea in the Group A match after Spanish-born controversial player Emilio Nsué’s strike proved sufficient in stopping the Falcons of Jediane.

Elsewhere, Senegal and Madagascar battled to a 2-2 draw away at Mahamasina Municipal Stadium in Antananarivo.

Moussa Konate scored the opener on the 26th minute after the host’s defense failed to contain the pressure from the Lions of Teranga.

Madagascar managed to level matters through Paulin Voavy, who plays his club football with Egyptian Premier League club Misr lel-Makkasa, just a minute to the half-time whistle.

Senegal scored their second moments after the restart with Italy based forward Keita Balde Diao finding the back of the net after beating Madagascar keeper Jean Dieu-Donne Randrianasolo.

However, their lead only took five minutes as the home side managed to restore parity following a mistake by the Lions of Teranga’s defence.

A defensive error from highly-rated Kalidou Koulibaly made it 2-2 as he diverted the ball to his own net to the delight of the home crowd.

In Group D Gambia battled to force a 1-1 draw against star-studded Algeria in Banjul. Assan Ceesay hit back in the 49th minute to cancel out Algeria’s Baghdad Bounedjah’s 46th minute strike, leaving the side one point apiece.

Stade Municipal Lome on Sunday was a stage of disappointment as Togo were held to a goalless draw by visiting Benin.

The Hawks controlled the flow of the game, but the fans who filled the stadium were disappointed as their home side forwards fired blanks at a weak Benin side that lacked some of their key players.

Combined with the Gambia and Algeria result, Togo now lies at the bottom of the group, while the Scorpions sit third with three points. Algeria and Benin tie at the top.

In Group E, Super Eagles of Nigeria cruised to a convincing 3-0 victory over Seychelles away at Stade Linite in Victoria.

Gernot Rohr’s men played at a snail pace, not what fans at home were expecting to see, but at the end of the day Ahmed Musa, Chidozie Awaziem and Odion Ighalo scored the important goals.

Another match of the group saw South Africa being held to a disappointing 0-0 draw by Libya at Moses Mabhida Stadium.

The visitors controlled the first half, while SA rallied in the second, but could not break down the physical, well-organized North Africans.

Bafana looked overwhelmed in the first half where they conceded a string of chances to the big, physical Libyan’s dangerous quick counterattack.

Libya’s best chance of the match came from Mohamed El Monir who sent a cross from the left wing that was met by forward Anias Saltou, but his effort went flying past the right corner.

South Africa missed an opportunity late in the second half through Buhle Mkwhanazi who headed wide Keegan Dolly’s corner with the visitor’s defense well beaten.

As a result, Bafana Bafana remained second on the Group E table while the Mediterranean Knights also remain at the top of the standings.

Group F set a tone of a stunner as 10-man Kenya recorded their first win in the group by shocking Ghana to a 1-0 defeat in Nairobi.

Nicholas Opuko put the ball in the back of his own net deep in the first half after Eric Johanna sent a right-foot cross from the flank. Michael Olunga placed sufficient pressure on Udinese’s man Opoku resulting in the goal that enabled Harambee Stars to break a 15-year jinx against the Black Stars of Ghana.

In Addis Ababa, Getah Kabede gave Ethiopia a slender 1-0 margin over Sierra Leone through a well-taken penalty in the 35th minute in a match that the visitors wasted a lot of chances.

The result, combined with Kenya’s 1-0 win over Ghana in the other game on Saturday, sees Ethiopia move off the bottom of the standings with Blacks Stars and Harambee Stars occupying the first two spots.

Group I

Botswana’s blunder from keeper Mwampole Masule set the tone for a forgettable evening away loss against Angola.

The Zebras gave Angola far too much room on the right-hand side of their defense for Jacinto Gelson Dala to slot past the advancing shot-stopper to give the hosts the goal.

Mauritania pulled another surprising shock, silencing Burkina Faso 2-0 at Nouakchott courtesy of Ismail Diakhite and Khassa Camara strikes late in first half.

Al Murabitun went into this encounter having secured a 1-0 win over Botswana away in their previous group game in June last year, while the Stallions had thrashed Angola 3-1 at home in their previous group match.

Group L

In group L, draws engulfed the four competing teams with Uganda holding visiting Tanzania to a 0-0 draw in Kampala.

Cape Verde failed to shine against lowly Lesotho on Saturday afternoon in one of the enticing matches of the group that failed to produce a winner.

Once again‚ the side was unable to break down their opponents‚ with the best chances in the first half falling the way of Lesotho.

In the second half, Cape Verde’s momentum was still at a low pace, gifting the home side an easy goal on the 77th minute courtesy of a strike from Sera Motebang.

The Blue Sharks were reduced to 10 men following a red card in the 85th minute, but this just came three minutes from Jorge Djaniny’s strike which ensured the visitors went home with a point.

The result, combined with Uganda’s goalless draw against Tanzania in Group L’s other match on Saturday at Nelson Mandela Stadium in Kampala, sees Cape Verde at the bottom of the standings with one point.

Uganda tops the group with four points while Tanzania and Lesotho are second and third respectively with two points each.

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