Cameroon close to qualifying, Ivory Coast loses
Cameroon closed in on qualification for next year’s African Cup of Nations with a 2-0 win over Sierra Leone on Wednesday.
Group D rival Ivory Coast lost 4-3 at home to Congo to slip out of the qualifying places for next year’s continental championship.
Cameroon secured a third win in four games in the final qualifying stage through early goals by Leonard Kweuke and Stephane Mbia in Yaounde, while Ivory Coast’s surprise defeat saw it drop out of the top two in the group.
Defending African champion Nigeria secured its first win in final qualifying by beating Sudan 3-1 in Group A, helped by a double from Ahmed Musa. Ghana also won to stay top of Group E and 2012 Cup of Nations winner Zambia dragged itself into contention with a first win in Group F.
Record seven-time champion Egypt beat Botswana 2-0 at home for a second straight win in Group G to move third behind Senegal and Tunisia and into the very last qualifying place as the best third-place team.
The top two teams from each of the seven groups qualify for next year’s African Cup alongside the best third-place finisher and host Morocco. As the groups stand with two rounds of games to go, Yaya Toure’s Ivory Coast and last year’s winner Nigeria would be the biggest teams to miss out.
Cameroon looks set to claim its place in Morocco early next year after Kweuke and Mbia scored within seven minutes against Sierra Leone. The Cameroonians moved four points clear in their group following Ivory Coast’s shock defeat in a seven-goal contest in Abidjan.
Ghana strengthened its position with a 3-1 win over Guinea, with Asamoah Gyan, Andre Ayew and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu all scoring to give the Black Stars a boost under stand-in coach Maxwell Konadu.
“The boys played their hearts out. Hard work is what paid off,” Konadu said.
Togo won 1-0 at home over Uganda with a late goal by defender Serge Akakpo to move second behind Ghana, two points back.
In Group F, Cape Verde and Zambia hold the qualifying positions, with Zambia jumping into contention with a 3-0 win at home over Niger.
Egypt, which is the continent’s most successful team but hasn’t qualified for the last two African Cups, had second-half goals from Amr Gamal and Chelsea’s Mohamed Salah to beat Botswana 2-0.
Associated Press writers Francis Kokutse in Accra, Ghana and Blame Ekoue in Lome, Togo contributed to this report.