Max Gradel
Max Gradel scored the crucial second for Ivory Coast

A 3-0 win over Niger has put Ivory Coast through to the Finals of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

Goals from Serge Aurier, Max Gradel and Wilfried Kanon did the damage for the Elephants, who now are guaranteed to progress thanks to a better head-to-head record against Group K rivals Madagascar, no matter what happens in the final round of matches.

However there was a shock in Group F as Cape Verde beat already-qualified Cameroon 3-1.

They came from a goal behind – Pierre Kunde scoring first for the Indomitable Lions – thanks to Kuca, a Macky Bagnack own goal, and a fine third by Ryan Mendes.

A key factor in the game was the strong Atlantic wind, which was at the backs of the Cape Verde players in the second half.

Their forward players were frequently able to pounce on long balls pumped forward and tear into the Cameroon defence.

This was very much how Cape Verde scored their third, Mendes gathering the ball near the halfway line and bursting past two Cameroon defenders before slotting neatly home.

Meanwhile in Group I, Congo drew 0-0 with Senegal. Congo now need only a point from their last game against Guinea-Bissau to be sure of being in Cameroon in 2022.

Morocco fans
Morocco fans know their team will be at Cameroon in 2022 – despite them not having yet kicked a ball

Earlier, a late fightback from two goals down kept Burundi in the hunt for qualification with a 2-2 draw against CAR in Bujumbura – and also meant Morocco are through.

Two goals either side of half time from Louis Mafouta had put CAR – who have never qualified for an Africa Cup of Nations finals – in a strong position, and with a hope of putting their fate in their own hands ahead of their final group game clash with Mauritania.

But Burundi got one back through Saidi Ntibazonkiza, and then Christophe Nduwarugira equalised on 80 minutes to snatch a point away.

The result means that Burundi – who were without striker Saido Berahino after he failed a Covid test – are second in the group, with Morocco now qualified.

In the other early kick-off on Friday, Guinea-Bissau made sure they still have a mathematical chance of qualifying with a 3-1 win over Eswatini in Lobamba.

Marcelo Djalo put Guinea-Bissau a goal up after just 15 minutes, but only four minutes later Felix Badenhorst levelled for Eswatini.

However, Alfa Samedo restored Guinea-Bissau’s advantage in the 24th minute, and Pele clinched the win five minutes after half time.



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