Cape Verde, Algeria Clinch AFCON spot, Côte d’Ivoire Stunned

Culled from FIFA….

Cape Verde Islands defeated Mozambique 1-0 on Wednesday to become the first country to reach the 2015 CAF Africa Cup of Nations after a dramatic Matchday 4 of qualifying, while Congo DR stunned Côte d’Ivoire 4-3 in Abidjan and title-holders Nigeria overcame Sudan 3-1 to get back into contention for a place among the 16 finalists.

The Blue Sharks were later joined by Algeria as goals from Yacine Brahimi, Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani earned the Desert Foxes a 3-0 triumph over Malawi in Blida. Algeria are the only team with a perfect record after four rounds and lead Group B by six points from Mali with Ethiopia and Malawi three points further behind.

Ghana stayed on track to qualify with a 3-1 home win over Guinea and shock 2012 champions Zambia trounced visiting Niger 3-0 to end an embarrassing winless streak. Angola, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia and Togo also won while the South Africa-Congo and Burkina Faso-Gabon matches were drawn.

Heldon Ramos was the toast of Cape Verde – a group of islands off the west coast with a population of less than a million – by scoring the 76th-minute winner in Praia. The islanders debuted in the Cup of Nations last year and exceeded expectations by reaching the quarter-finals after holding hosts South Africa and Morocco and defeating Angola.

Cape Verde have nine points in Group F, Zambia and Mozambique five each and Niger two with the final two matchdays scheduled for mid-November. Côte d’Ivoire conceded four goals for the second time in three games as they wiped out a two-goal deficit with ten men only to be beaten by a late goal.

Franck Kessie was red-carded just after half-time with his team trailing 3-1, but a brace from former Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou restored equality. A Congolese side desperate to avenge a 2-1 home defeat by the Ivorians four days ago never gave up and Jeremie Bokila scored his second goal a minute from time.

Cameroon comfortably overcame Sierra Leone 2-0 in Yaounde through early goals from Leonard Kweuke and Stephane Mbia in the other Group D game. The four-time champions have ten points, Côte d’Ivoire and Congo DR six each and Sierra Leone one.

Nigeria were another team to gain revenge as they put a stunning loss in Sudan behind them by winning 3-1 in Abuja. All the goals came during the second half with Ahmed Musa opening and closing the scoring, Salah Ibrahim equalising and Aaron Samuel putting the Super Eagles ahead a second time.

With surprise Group A leaders South Africa held 0-0 by Congo in a rain-soaked match in Polokwane, the two tickets to the finals are up for grabs. South Africa have eight points, Congo seven, Nigeria four and Sudan three.

A Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu goal deep in stoppage time sealed victory for Group E pacesetters Ghana in northern city Tamale. Asamoah Gyan gave the Black Stars an early lead, Mohamed Lamine Yattara levelled and Andre Ayew converted a second-half penalty to nudge Ghana ahead a second time.

Togo completed a ‘double’ over Uganda by winning 1-0 for the second time within five days with defender Serge Akakpo nodding the 70th-minute winner. Ghana lead the way with eight points, Togo have six and Uganda and Guinea four each.

Zambia put a three-match winless Group F run behind them in Ndola by outplaying Niger through second-half goals from Rainford Kalaba, Emmanuel Mayuka and goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene, off a penalty. After failing to score in three matches, Angola overwhelmed Lesotho 4-0 in Luanda, Egypt were 2-0 winners over Botswana in Cairo, and Ethiopia shocked Mali 3-2 in Bamako. Malick Evouna earned Gabon a 1-1 draw against Burkina Faso in Ouagadougou after Jonathon Pitroipa had given the home team a half-time lead.