AFCON 2019 Qualifiers Weekend Roundup (Part Two)
Ducor Sports brings you a roundup of matches played in Group G, J, B, K, H and C in the 2019 AFCON Qualifiers.
In continuation of matches played across the African continent, Ducor Sports brings you a roundup of matches played in Group G, J, B, K, H and C.
Liberia and DR Congo played to a 1-1 stalemate at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville on Sunday.
It could have been a great start for newly appointed head coach of Liberia, Thomas Kojo and a sigh of relief to keep alive the Lone Stars’ hopes of qualifying for the 2019 Nations Cup in Cameroon.
Liberia took the lead in the 62nd minute through newly appointed captain William Jebor who skillfully possessed and fired home a cross from Mamelodi Sundowns forward Anthony Laffor from the right flank.
However, the hosts failed to defend their one-goal lead. With eight minutes left on the clock, the visitors leveled the scores through TP Mazembe’s Elia Meschak in the 82nd minute.
Lone Star head coach Kojo blamed his players for “lack of concentration” in the final quarter of the match but expressed satisfaction over his team’s performance against pre-match favorites The Leopards.
Leopards’ gaffer Florent Ibenge admitted to his team’s underperformance from the start of the game and later made three substitutions to search for a draw, a result that he was delighted about.
A win for the Leopards could have sent them top of Group G after leaders Zimbabwe earlier played to the same 1-1 draw against Congo Brazzaville.
Zimbabwe’s Khama Billiat scored the opener in the 22 minutes into the match before Turkey-based forward Thievy Bifouma leveled things up five minutes into the second-phase to rescue a vital point for the Congo.
Zimbabwe remains top of the group on goal difference with four points out of two games (level on points with DR Congo), while Liberia and Congo Brazzaville remain at the bottom of the group with one point apiece.
In Group J, there could not have been any better way for the Pharaohs of Egypt to bounce back after thrashing Niger 6-0 to collect their first win in 2018 at the Stadium of Burj Al Arab.
Despite missing a penalty in the third minute, Mohamed Salah was the outstanding player of the match after scoring a brace and providing two assists. Marwan Mohsen opened the scoring in the 13th minute before Ayman Ashraf in doubled it the 21st minute and Mohammed Salah adding the game’s third eight minutes later to ensure a 3-0 lead at the halftime break.
In the second-half, Salah Mohsen added the fourth goal for the Pharaohs in the 73rd minute, the fifth goal in the 86th minute before Mohammed Al-Nani rounded up the romping with an effort of his own in the 91st minute.
The win for the Pharaohs put them in the second position of the group -three points behind North African rivals Tunisia.
Tunisia maintained their position at the top of the group following a 2-0 win over Swaziland. A goal each from forward Taha Yassine Khenissi and midfielder Naïm Sliti in the first half helped the Carthage Eagles to a second win in the group.
Niger and Swaziland occupy the bottom of the table with a point each.
Morocco became a stumbling block for Malawi as The Flames strive to make history to qualify for the Nations Cup since 2010. Malawi went desperately in search of their second win while the Moroccans were hoping for the first win, which they got at the Stade Mohammed V.
A brace from Youssef En-Nesyri in each half and Hakim Ziyech’s third minute goal secured the Moroccans the bragging rights.
Elsewhere in Group B, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, who have already qualified as hosts of the competition, fought from a goal down to collect a point against Comoros.
Stéphane Bahoken fired home a late goal to rescue the reigning African champions after El Fardou Ben Mohamed’s early goal which could have upset coach Clarence Seedorf on his debut from the sidelines.
The weekend results mean Cameroon remain top of the log with four points, followed by Morocco and Malawi with three points, and Comoros at the bottom with a point.
In Group K, all four teams, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Zambia and Namibia remained in the same positions after the second round of group matches. The four group participants went into their respective group matches hoping to get a result that could put them in a better position.
Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique went into a battle for the group’s top spot when they met at the Estadio do Zimpetoin Maputo on Saturday. Both teams won their opening game 1-0 against Namibia and Zambia respectively. This was the first meeting between the two countries.
Both teams shared the spoils as they drew 2-2. Zainadine Junior scored the opening goal for Mozambique before the first half break.
After the break, Carlos Apna Embola scored the equalizer for Guinea-Bissau in the 51st minute. It later became drama when Mozambique reclaimed the lead after Reginaldo Feife forced in a deflected ball from close range with few minutes left to play. However, Guinea Bissau fought back. Frederic Mendy beat Mozambique’s goalkeeper at the near post to secure a 2-2 draw.
At the Sam Nujoma Stadium in Namibia, Justine Shonga’s late goal in the 90th minute saved the Chipolopolo from conceding their second defeat after Benson Shilongo got the curtain-raiser for Namibia in the 79th minute.
The result leaves both teams trapped at the bottom of the group with only a point after two games while Mozambique and Guinea Bissau both sit at the top with 4 points apiece after two games.
The National Elephants of Guinea are showing no sign of slowing down after a 1-0 win over the Wild Beasts of the Central African Republic at the Stade du Septembre in Guinea.
Saydouba Soumah scored the lone goal in the 65th minute to give Guinea their second successive win in the ongoing Nations Cup qualifiers. Both teams were battling for their second win in the group after winning their opener games.
Ivory Coast bounced back from their 2-3 loss at home to Guinea in their first match with a 2-1 win over Rwanda on Sunday.
Jonathan Kodjia and Max-Alain Gradel scored the two goals for the Elephants, while Meddie Kagere scored Rwanda’s lone goal.
Guinea are top of the Group with six points, Ivory Coast and Central African Republic are level at three points each, while Rwanda are yet to get a point.
Finally, in Group C, another West African side, Mali, continue to keep up their brilliant performance after thrashing South Sudan 3-0 on Sunday at the Juba Stadium.
Moussa Marega, Salif Coulibaly and Adama Traore were all on the score sheet for Mali.
Also in Group C, it was a remarkable debut for Burundi’s striker Saido Berahino after scoring the opener for Burundi but the Stoke City striker’s effort was canceled by Perrie-Emerick Aubameyang’s late strike to salvage a point for Gabon.
Burundi are second with four points, two behind leaders Mali, followed by Gabon with one point and South Sudan that are yet to collect a point.
Image Courtesy: Anthony Kokoi