Mixed reactions as septet for Egypt emerge

Eléphants Olympiques qualifiés pour la CAN U23

The roll call for the Total U-23 Africa Cup of Nations Egypt 2019 is done and dusted after the final round of matches of the qualifiers on Tuesday.

Host Egypt will be joined by Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia for the final tournament scheduled for 8-22 November in Cairo, where the top three finishers will qualify to represent Africa at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Of the octet, host Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa are the only teams to have participated at every edition of the quadrennial championships since its inception in 2011. Nigeria were champions at the last edition in Senegal in 2015, whilst Senegal finished third, which also had Mali and Zambia. Ghana and Cameroon have qualified for the finals for the first time with Cote d'Ivoire making a return since 2011.

Away joy for quintet

It was victory away from home for the quintet of Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, South Africa and Zambia who coughed out impressive outings to secure their tickets.

After a narrow 1-0 win from the first leg in Yaounde last week, Cameroon went down 2-1 to Tunisia in Tunis, but advanced via the away goal rule after a 2-2 tie on aggregate. Les Lions U-23, guided by legendary Cameroonian captain Rigobert Song, took the lead courtesy Ignatius Ganago from the spot after 15 minutes. The Tunisians leveled through Wajdi Salhi midway before Habib Oueslati netted the winner on 71 minutes but fell short of taking the North Africans through.

Cameroon Team U-23

In Conakry, Italy-based duo Christian Kouame and Hamed Junior found target in either half as Cote d'Ivoire overcame a lone goal in the reverse in Abidjan to edge Guinea on away goals after a 2-2 tie. Moussa Traore scored in between for Guinea.

Ghana's Black Meteors confirmed their place at the finals for the first time after shocking Algeria to a 1-0 win away in Setif. Captain Yaw Yeboah scored the only goal late in the game as the West Africans went through 2-1 on aggregate.

After a huge 5-0 win in the first leg, South Africa held Zimbabwe to a barren in Bulawayo to make it three out of three finals, thanks to a 5-0 aggregate win.

Elsewhere in Brazzaville, Zambia survived a scare from Congo to share the spoils with the latter in a 3-3 draw.

It was one-all at half time with Zambia's Enock Mwepu canceling Guy Mbenza opener early in the game. Fashion Sakala, who was sent off in the dying embers after second yellow card whilst on the bench gave the visitors the lead on 51 minutes before the Congolese scored twice through Temopele Medina and Gaius Makouta. Mwepu completed his brace five minutes from time to stun the home crowd and ensure passage 5-4 on aggregate.

With defeat staring in their face after a lone goal loss in the first leg, Nigeria put up a five-star performance to sink Sudan 5-0 in Asaba and 5-1 on aggregate to make it a hat-trick of appearances at the finals. Ndifreke Udo scored a first half brace before a goal each from Taiwo Awomiyi, Sunday Falaye and Seth Mayi sealed victory.

Mali's young and enterprising squad kept alive their Olympic hopes after beating Morocco 1-0 in Bamako. Aly Malle's 56th minute penalty separated the two sides as Les Aiglons advanced 2-1 on aggregate.

Results

08.09.2019 Brazzaville Congo 3-3 Zambia (1-2)

10.09.2019 Bulawayo Zimbabwe 0-0 South Africa (0-5)

10.09.2019 Setif Algeria 0-1 Ghana (1-1)

10.09.2019 Tunis Tunisia 2-1 Cameroon (0-1)

10.09.2019 Conakry Guinea 1-2 Cote d’Ivoire (1-0)

10.09.2019 Asaba Nigeria 5-0 Sudan (0-1)

10.09.2019 Bamako Mali 1-0 Morocco (1-1)

Qualified teams: Egypt (host), Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia

Photo @FIFCI