On a bustling Saturday of Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying matches, Mozambique, Mauritania, and DR Congo secured their places as the 19th, 20th, and 21st teams to qualify for the tournament.
The spotlight of the afternoon was centered on Estadio do Zimpeto in Maputo, where Mozambique secured their return to the AFCON for the first time since 2010 by defeating Benin 3-2. Despite falling behind early to a Steve Mounie penalty, the Mambas rallied with goals from Witi and Ricardo Guimaraes to take a 2-1 lead into halftime. However, the Cheetahs struck back early in the second half through Jodel Dossou, keeping the home fans on edge until injury time when Celsio Bauque scored the winner, easing the tension.
Meanwhile, in Lilongwe, Malawi and Guinea played to a 2-2 draw in their Group D match. The Flames took the lead with a goal from Robert Saizi in the first half, but the Syli National turned the tide, leading 2-1 by the hour mark with goals from Aguibou Camara and Saidou Sow. Late in the game, Malawi fought back with a goal from Lawrence Chaziya to earn a share of the points.
In the early evening matches, the focus shifted to Group I, where DR Congo and Mauritania secured their places in the AFCON finals. Mauritania claimed a dramatic 2-1 win over Gabon in Nouakchott, featuring two red cards but ultimately decided by first-half goals from Hemeya Tanjy and Aboubakar Kamara. In Kinshasa, DR Congo secured their return to the continental finals with a 2-0 victory over Sudan, courtesy of goals from Theo Bongonda and Fiston Mayele, ensuring they finished atop the table ahead of Mauritania.
In other early evening matches, Ivory Coast concluded their Group H campaign with a 1-0 home win over Lesotho, thanks to Ibrahim Sangare’s first-half strike. In the night match from the same group, Zambia came from behind to draw 1-1 with Comoros in Moroni, claiming the top spot in the standings. Patson Daka’s second-half equalizer nullified Benjaloud Youssouf’s opener just before halftime.
In Diamniadio, reigning African champions Senegal wrapped up their successful Group I campaign with a 1-1 draw against Rwanda. Lamine Camara’s strike in the second half was equalized by a late goal from Olivier Niyonzima.
The scheduled Group K match between Morocco and Liberia was postponed due to an earthquake that struck the North African country on Friday night.
The AFCON qualifiers will continue on Sunday, September 10th, with three matches: Nigeria vs. Sao Tome and Principe, Togo vs. Cape Verde, and Gambia vs. Congo.
AFCON qualifiers results for Saturday, September 9th:
- Malawi 2-2 Guinea
- Mozambique 3-2 Benin
- DR Congo 2-0 Sudan
- Ivory Coast 1-0 Lesotho
- Mauritania 2-1 Gabon
- Comoros 1-1 Zambia
- Senegal 1-1 Rwanda
- Morocco vs. Liberia – Postponed