Mauritania won and Ethiopia were trailing in an abandoned match as they secured places yesterday at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, raising the number of qualifiers to 21 for the 24-team tournament.
Guinea Bissau also qualified after a 3-0 win over Congo to catapult above them into second place in Group I. They had to win the game while their visitors needed only draw but Piqueti scored in the last minute of the first half and Frederic Mendy and Jorginho Intima added two more after the break to see Guinea Bissau to a third successive finals.
Ethiopia were losing 3-1 to already-qualified Ivory Coast in Abidjan after 80 minutes when the Ghanaian referee collapsed and the visiting team refused to continue under the fourth official, an Ivorian. The Ivorian was a late pre-match replacement after the original referee from Ghana withdrew, leading to his compatriot being promoted from fourth official to match referee.
Referee Charles Bulu received treatment at the national stadium before being taken to hospital. His condition was not immediately known. Madagascar needed maximum points to overtake Ethiopia in Group K, but the Indian Ocean side were held 0-0 by Niger in Toamasina.
In Abidjan, the Ivorians quickly built a two-goal advantage as Willy Boly scored and Franck Kessie converted a penalty. Getaneh Kebede halved the deficit on 74 minutes only for Jean Kouassi to score a third goal for the Ivory Coast almost immediately.
Madagascar, who surprisingly reached the Cup of Nations quarter-finals when they debuted two years ago, attacked relentlessly but could not break down Niger, who conceded six goals when the sides last met.
An Aboubakar Kamara goal in first-half stoppage time earned Mauritania a 1-0 victory over the Central African Republic in Bangui and the second qualifying place in Group E behind Morocco.
It will be the second successive appearance at the finals of the premier African national team competition for the Mauritanians, who are coached by Frenchman Corentin Martins.
The remaining two places will be filled late last night with, Sierra Leone and Benin (Group L) and Cape Verde, Rwanda and Mozambique (Group F) in contention.
Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Comoros, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia and Zimbabwe are the other qualifiers.
On Monday, Richard Mbulu scored after 16 minutes to give Malawi a 1-0 Group B victory over Uganda on Monday, and qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations. The 27-year-old forward headed powerfully past Uganda goalkeeper Denis Onyango off a cross from former Atletico Madrid youth squad member Robin Ngalande.
Victory temporarily took Malawi to the top of the table with 10 points — they were overtaken three hours later when fellow qualifiers Burkina Faso defeated South Sudan 1-0 in Ouagadougou. Aston Villa forward Bertrand Traore scored the Burkinabe goal on 50 minutes as the team finished unbeaten a six-match qualifying campaign spanning 17 months.
Popularly known as the Flames, Malawi are ranked 123rd in the world, 40 places below Uganda, and will be making a third appearance at the finals after first-round exits from the 1984 and 2010 editions.
The match in Blantyre was the only one of eight staged Monday that involved qualification, with just pride at stake in the others. Joint leading Premier League scorer Mohamed Salah of Liverpool scored twice as Egypt netted four times in 10 minutes during the first half to hammer the Comoros 4-0 in Cairo and top Group G.
Kenya claimed a first win in the same section with goals from Hassan Abdallah and Masoud Juma, off a penalty, delivering a 2-1 win in Togo. Captain Riyad Mahrez scored as Group H table-toppers Algeria finished with a 5-0 rout of Botswana in Blida, which stretched an unbeaten record in competitive and friendly matches to 24.
Zimbabwe, the other qualifiers from the section, fell 2-0 to neighbours Zambia in Harare with Patson Daka netting twice to become the leading scorer in qualifying with five goals.
Both Group D qualifiers lost with Gabon beaten 2-0 by Angola in Luanda and the Gambia going down 1-0 to the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa.
Manuel ‘Show’ Cafumana and Loide Augusto scored to end a five-match winless run by Angola in the group while Kazadi Kasengu was the Congolese match-winner, converting a penalty on the stroke of half-time.
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