Defending African champions Nigeria secured their first win in final qualifying by beating Sudan 3-1 in Group A, helped by a double from Ahmed Musa. Ghana also won to stay top of Group E and 2012 winner Zambia dragged themselves into contention with a first win in Group F.
Cameroon closed in on qualification with a 2-0 win over Sierra Leone on Wednesday. Group D rival Ivory Coast, meanwhile, lost 4-3 at home to Congo to slip out of the qualifying places for next year’s continental championship.
Cameroon secured a third win in four games in the final qualifying stage through early goals by Leonard Kweuke and Stephane Mbia in Yaounde, while Ivory Coast’s surprise defeat saw them drop out of the top two in the group.
Record seven-time champion Egyptbeat Botswana 2-0 at home for a second straight win in Group G to move third behind Senegal and Tunisia and into the very last qualifying place as the best third-place team.
The top two teams from each of the seven groups qualify for next year’s African Nations Cup alongside the best third-place finisher and host Morocco. As the groups stand with two rounds of games to go, Yaya Toure’s Ivory Coast and last year’s winner Nigeria would be the biggest teams to miss out.
Congo were 4-3 victors in their meeting with Ivory Coast.
Cameroon look set to claim their place in Morocco early next year after Kweuke and Mbia scored within seven minutes against Sierra Leone. The Cameroonians moved four points clear in their group following Ivory Coast’s shock defeat in a seven-goal contest in Abidjan.
Ghana strengthened their position with a 3-1 win over Guinea, with Asamoah Gyan, Andre Ayew and Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu all scoring to give the Black Stars a boost under stand-in coach Maxwell Konadu.
“The boys played their hearts out. Hard work is what paid off,” Konadu said.
Togo won 1-0 at home over Uganda with a late goal by defender Serge Akakpo to move second behind Ghana, two points back.
In Group F, Cape Verde and Zambia hold the qualifying positions, with Zambia jumping into contention with a 3-0 win at home over Niger.
Egypt, who are the continent’s most successful team but have not qualified for the last two tournaments, had second-half goals from Amr Gamal and Chelsea’s Mohamed Salah to beat Botswana 2-0.
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