Tunisia and Mali have joined 2019 finalists Senegal, holders Algeria as well as hosts Cameroon as the qualified teams for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
This was after both picked favourable results in match day four games.
Tunisia progressed in spite of a 1-1 draw with Tanzania in Dar es Salaam, while Mali went through after a 2-1 victory away to Namibia.
In Tanzania, the Carthage Eagles moved to 10 points on top of Group J after four matches and preserved their unbeaten run.
Tanzania moved to third with the point, getting to four points and two behind second-placed Equatorial Guinea to keep their qualification hopes alive.
A second half charge by the Taifa Stars earned them a point, with substitute Feisal ‘Fei Toto’ Salum’s screamer cancelling out Saif Eddine Khaoui’s first-half opener.
Tunisia went into the break a goal up, Khaoui’s goal the difference between the two sides.
Khaoui had struck the back of the net with a well-taken first-time shot after being teed up by skipper Youssef Msakni.
The Carthage Eagles had quickly turned play around after Tanzania’s DItram Nchimbi who failed to control a long ball, chesting it to Ali Maaloul’s path who launched the play forward.
The Tunisians were gifted for a positive start to the match and before the goal, Msakni had struck the upright after Tanzanian goalkeeper Aishi Manula came off his line.
But he failed to pick the ball, gifting the Tunisian skipper with a golden chance.
The North Africans continued running rings around their hosts and controlled massive possession.
Wahbi Khazri came close in the 21st minute but his snap shot from inside the box was wide.
In the 24th minute, Khaoui came close to doubling his and the team’s tally but his brilliant shot off a cheeky Khazri backheel pass rattled the crossbar.
The Tanzanians made an early change, Salum coming on for Himid Mao, a change geared to improve the Taifa Stars’ creativity in midfield.
The home side came from the breather like a new team and it only took them two minutes to get to level terms.
A cross from Nchimbi on the right was chested down by John Bocco with Salum striking a first-time effort that flew into the net from range.
Tanzania kept pushing and had another chance in the 53rd minute, Nchimbi’s header from a corner-kick bouncing just wide.
Tanzania’s fight was almost nipped in the bud when Khaoui broke into the box from a Msakni pass.
But he could not connect with his shot well, with goalkeeper Manula making a save.
The home side continued their fight and with a quarter of an hour left came close, but were denied by Ben Mustapha who tipped over Msuva’s curling effort for a corner-kick.
The Tunisians finished the game on a high, and had a chance with two minutes left on the clock but Msakni’s shot from a tight angle was saved by Manula much to the relief of the Tanzanians.
In Windhoek, Mali went top of Group A and booked a ticket to Cameroon after a 2-1 win over hosts Namibia.
Sekou Koita and Moussa Doumbia scored the goals for Mali while Namibia’s consolation was scored by Elmo Kambindu.
The victory takes the Malians top of the table with 10 points, two ahead of Guinea who dropped to second.
Namibia remain third with just three points off one victory.
The visitors were the dominant side in the opening half and deservedly went into the break 2-1 up.
Koita had given them the lead after 12 minutes with a brilliant left foot shot from the edge of the area after being teed up by Alliou Dieng.
The Malian Eagles were enjoying themselves, passing the ball around the park with utmost ease, but often failed to make the possession count for goals.
But, they were 2-0 up 37 minutes in when Doumbia doubled the lead with a well-taken goal, beating the goalkeeper at his near-post after some swift step-overs took him beyond Larry Horaeb on the left to break into the box.
But the two-goal cushion lasted just two minutes, with the Namibians halving the deficit through Kambindu who rose highest at the back-post to head in beyond the goalkeeper from a free-kick.
In the second half, Mali were still in control and should have sealed the victory in the 58th minute, but El Bilal Toure saw his penalty kick saved by the goalkeeper.
Namibia piled on the pressure in the final half hour of the game, but could not get anything to lift them off the ground.
Female African Footballers To Be Protected By New FIFA Rule
At a Congress on Friday, FIFA announced the approval of new rules to protect female footballers, their contracts and careers.
The new rules come with better strategies to allow female football players become mothers without their careers having to pay for it.
President of the world football governing body, Gianni Infantino announced on Friday that the new rule seeks to protect women and also respect their contracts.
The new rule, which is not limited to female African footballers will see a player receive 2/3rd of her salary wh ile she’s pregnant. She will also be accepted back to the team on her return and medical care must be provided for such player.
The rule also says a player will be on a paid 14-week maternity leave, and will also get to keep her job.
Any club that flouts the rules, and fails to pay the player accordingly will be liable to pay a compensation to the player.
The rules also apply to female coaches.
“If we are serious about boosting the women’s game, we have to look at all these aspects, ” Infantino said.
“Female players need to have stability in their careers, and if they take maternity leave, they should not have to worry about when they are ready to play again.”
Mozambican Club Travels 845km To Prosecute Continental Fixture
Mozambique league champions, Costa do Sol have defied the ills of the road to travel 845km to prosecute a continental fixture.
Costa do Sol faced travel hitches ahead of their CAF Champions League clash against Zimbabwe’s FC Platinum.
While the club had secured flight space from LAM, Mozambique’s national airline, the club were forced to dig deep when their travel plans were cancelled by LAM. This was revealed by Maher Mezahi, an Algerian journalist with keen interest in African football.
This ensured the team travelled down to Platinum, located in Zvishavane, Midlands Province of Zimbabwe, Southern Africa.
Costa do Sol is located in Maputo, the Mozambican capital, with their geography bordering mostly on Southern Africa but also may be classed in East Africa.
The team, which lost 2-1 to Platinum in the first leg in Maputo now face an even more Herculean task to overcome their hosts.
Their travel ordeal may be a source of motivation to give the game their all or affect their physical makeup, due to the long journey they had.
CCC: Cameroon’s Alex Song And Djibouti Team Suffer 10-1 Defeat
Former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder, Alex Song’s return to African football is seen by many as a fall from grace.
That he chose to team up with a team in Djibouti, one of Africa’s smallest football nations, has also seen many questioning his desire for competition.
Song has claimed he’s in Djibouti for a purpose but he’s been left clinging on to harsh realities after a heavy defeat in his first competitive appearance.
The former Cameroonian international’s team, Arta/Solar 7 were drubbed 10-1 aggregate by Arab Contractors in the first round of the CAF Confederations Cup.
To add salt on Song’s injury, he scored an unfortunate own goal in the clash.
The Cameroonian is expected to help build Djibouti football in the role and such start must be discouraging to him.
Whether the humiliating defeat will deter Song and his Djibouti side from their ambitious target will be revealed in a matter of time.
The former Rubin Kazan midfielder has previously played in Cameroon, France, England, Spain, Russia and Switzerland before his switch to Solar 7.
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