Cameroon and Tunisia completed the roster for the play-off round of the qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup after they picked victories in their final group matches on Tuesday.
The Indomitable Lions edged out Côte d'Ivoire by a solitary goal in Yaounde to finish top of Group D while Tunisia beat Zambia 3-1 in Rades to top Group B.
Cameroon 1-0 Côte d'Ivoire
In Yaounde, pressure was on the host side as they came into the final match day trailing the Ivorians in the group and needed to win at all costs to ensure they earned a place in the play-off.
They started strongly pinning Côte d'Ivoire in their own half and pushed on by the home crowd. They eventually got the opener in the 21st minute when Karl Toko Ekambi smashed the ball into the roof of the net after being played through by Martin Hongla.
It was the exact start that Cameroon had yearned for and now turned the pressure tide on the visitors.
They almost drew level in the 31st minute but keeper Andre Onana made a brilliant save, showing superb reflex to turn behind Franck Kessie’s volley from close range off a Max Cornet cross.
In the second half, Côte d'Ivoire piled the pressure and they came closest in the 70th minute when Sebastian Haller saw his header off a cross from the right clip the crossbar.
Substitutes Nicolas Pepe and Aboubacar Sangare also came close, Pepe’s low shot after cutting in from the right being deflected away while Sangare’s low shot went inches wide with Onana well beaten.
Despite the increased pressure, Cameroon held on to their nerves to see off the victory and secure the ticket.
Tunisia 3-1 Zambia
In Rades, Tunisia went to the last match day level on points with Equatorial Guinea and had to win to ensure they progress.
They got into the lead in the 18th minute through Aissa Laidouni who swing in a sweet volley after a cross from the right was headed to his path. They had a chance to double their lead in the 28th minute when Wahbi Khazri was fouled inside the area by the keeper.
The captain took responsibility but saw his spot kick saved.
His blushes were however wiped two minutes later when Mohamed Drager scored the second finishing off a sweet one two finish started off by Khazri at the edge of the box.
They got their third two minutes from halftime when Ali Maaloul brilliantly swept the ball home inside the box after the Zambian defense was caught flat out.
The visitors scored their consolation in the 80th minute when Fashion Sakala scored on the second bite of the cherry off the penalty spot after his initial effort was saved.
Meanwhile, Equatorial Guinea could only finish second in the group with 11 points, two behind Tunisia after playing to a 1-1 draw with Mauritania.
Saul Basilio Coco-Bassey Oubina scored the equalizer for the Equatoguineans in the second half, cancelling out Aboubakar Kamara’s first half goal.
Mauritania finished bottom of the group after failing to clinch any victory.
Morocco 3-0 Guinea
At the Stade Moulay Abdallah in Rabat, hosts Morocco finished off the group stages by preserving their 100pc record after edging out Guinea 3-0. The Atlas Lions had an envious record in the group winning all six matches, scoring 20 goals and conceding only once.
After scoring a brace against Sudan last week, 24-year old Ryan Mmaee continued in his rich vein of form hitting twice and assisting the third for Morocco.
He opened the scoring from the penalty spot in the 21st minute before adding the second eight minutes later with a well struck shot from inside the box. He then laid up a defense splitting pass for Ayoub El Kaabi to finish in the second half.