“Tiny” Cape Verde Islands became the first country to book a place at next year’s African Nations Cup finals and were joined by Algeria after Wednesday’s round of qualifiers across the continent, Reuters report.
A 75th-minute goal from Heldon gave Cape Verde a 1-0 home win over Mozambique in Praia for their third victory in four games and a guaranteed a top-two finish in Group F while Algeria overcame Malawi 3-0 in Blida to keep up their 100 percent record in Group B.
Yacine Brahimi scored after only two minutes for Algeria and Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani added two more in a comfortable triumph that ensures their place at next January’s finals in Morocco.
Cape Verde, with a population of less than 500,000, were surprise quarter-finalists at the last finals in South Africa and continued their remarkable rise with a competent showing in the qualifiers.
Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia also had a chance to secure qualification on a busy day of action, but must wait until the next round of qualifiers in November.
Cameroon scored twice in the opening seven minutes to beat Sierra Leone 2-0 in Yaounde and top Group D, but would only have been sure of progressing to the finals had the Ivorians beaten the Democratic Republic of Congo in Abidjan later on Wednesday.
Instead the Congolese produced a surprise triumph in a seven-goal thriller, scoring a late winner through Jeremy Bokila.