Big threee join Madagascar at afcon party

Egypt, Senegal and Tunisia joined Madagascar as the early qualifiers in the 24-team field for next year’s expanded African Cup of Nations finals.

Senegal won 1-0 in Sudan thanks to a late goal from Sidy Sarr as Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was left out of the team after hurting a thumb at the weekend.

Egypt’s 2-0 away win over eSwatini, formerly Swaziland, was without the injured Mohamed Salah and a 2-1 triumph for Tunisia in Niger ensured the two north African powerhouses qualified from Group J. Firas Chawat scored both goals for Tunisia on his debut.

Uganda need a point from their last two qualifiers to reach the finals after beating Lesotho 2-0 away and Guinea are also on the cusp despite giving up a late goal and being held 1-1 in Rwanda.

Liverpool’s Naby Keita went off at halftime with a suspected muscle strain.

Ivory Coast still have some work to do after they were held 0-0 away in Central African Republic, but are expected to qualify from Group H along with Guinea.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang did not play for Gabon as they won 1-0 in South Sudan after a row over the charter plane initially laid on to take the team to Juba.

Aubameyang lead protests by players and staff and then said he had a backache and pulled out of the trip on Monday, as a new and larger plane took the players for the match, where Andre Biyogo Poko scored the only goal of the game.

Aubameyang last month criticised the Gabon federation’s poor organisation.

Tiny Seychelles held South Africa to a goalless draw on the Indian Ocean island, while Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo followed up his hat-trick against Libya at the weekend with another two goals against the same opposition in a 3-2 win in neutral Sfax, Tunisia.

Nigeria top Group E with nine points, South Africa have eight and Libya four.

South Africa, however, have tough fixtures against Nigeria at home next month and Libya away in March for their last two games and could miss out on the finals for the second straight edition.

 

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