Comoros, Gambia secure places at Cup of Nations finals

The Comoros Islands and the Gambia qualified for the African Cup of Nations for the first time, securing places at next January’s finals.

The Africa Cup of Nations finals will be held in January, 2022. - REUTERS

The Comoros Islands and the Gambia qualified for the African Cup of Nations for the first time, securing places at next January’s finals after their penultimate group games on Thursday.

A goalless home draw against Togo maintained the Comoros’ unbeaten record in qualifying and guaranteed a top-two finish in Group G in a fairytale achievement for the small island nation.

Assan Ceesay scored around the hour mark for the Gambia as it beat Angola 1-0 at home and it will be joined in the finals from Group D by Gabon, which hammered Democratic Republic of Congo 3-0 with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang among their scorers.

A dramatic last minute from captain Emilio Nsue handed Equatorial Guinea a 1-0 victory over Tanzania and a place in the finals at its visitor's expense.

Egypt also qualified for a record 25th appearance as Mohamed Salah returned to its team for the first time since the 2019 finals and it drew 1-1 with 10-man Kenya in Nairobi.

Ghana will participate in its 23rd tournament after a 1-1 draw with South Africa in Johannesburg ensured it will finish in the top two in Group C. South Africa and Sudan will battle it out for the other place in Khartoum on Sunday.

ALSO READ - Germany, England, Italy win but Spain held in World Cup qualifying

Zimbabwe had to wait, after winning 1-0 in Botswana, to see whether it would qualify. Neighbour Zambia needed to beat Algeria to keep its hopes alive but drew a thrilling game 3-3. Patrick Daka scored twice for Zambia and Islam Slimani got a double for the defending champion.

Zimbabwe has now qualified for a third successive finals.

The Comoros, with a population of under 900,000, has only been competing in international football since 2006 but has become more competitive in recent years after drawing players into the team from the Comorian community in France. Its 1-0 win over Togo in November, 2019 at the start of the Cup of Nations qualifiers was a first away success for the Indian Ocean island archipelago in a competitive international and it held Egypt to a draw at home four days later.

“The pride I feel for my country is indescribable! Bravo to my players, my staff, my federation, thank you to the President. And a big thank you to our incredible supporters. Together we made history,” coach Amir Abdou said on Twitter.

The identity of 14 of the 24-team field for the finals has now been settled with the remaining 10 to be determined over the next five days of qualifying matches.

ALL RESULTS
  • Equatorial Guinea 1-0 Tanzania
  • Libya 2-5 Tunisia
  • Zambia 3-3 Algeria
  • Comoros 0-0 Togo
  • Botswana 0-1 Zimbabwe
  • Gabon 3-0 DR Congo
  • Gambia 1-0 Angola
  • Kenya 1-1 Egypt
  • South Africa 1-1 Ghana.