Richard Mbulu’s diving header handed Malawi a 1-0 victory over Uganda on Monday and a place at the Africa Cup of Nations finals for only the third time. The triumph in Blantyre secured Malawi the runner-up spot in Group B, finishing behind already-qualified Burkina Faso but ahead of Uganda.
Mbulu netted after 15 minutes for Malawi, who only previously qualified in 1984 and 2010 and the feat will come as a major boost to football in one of Africa’s poorest countries. It is the 19th country to qualify for next January’s final. The final five places at the 24-team tournament will be settled on Tuesday.
Burkina Faso finished with 12 points in the group after Bertrand Traore’s 49th minute strike sealed a 1-0 win over South Sudan in Ouagadougou. Malawi was second on 10 points and Uganda third with eight. South Sudan lost five of its six qualifiers to finish bottom.
All of Monday’s other qualifiers had no bearing on qualification but settled the placings in several groups.
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Mohamed Salah scored twice in his first home appearance with Egypt in almost two years as it beat the Comoros Islands 4-0 in Cairo to finish the campaign unbeaten. Both countries had already qualified for the finals from Group G.
Kenya finished third as it won 2-1 away in Togo, likely marking the end of the long career of Frenchman Claude Le Roy, now 73, who has coached at nine Cup of Nations finals.
Defending champion Algeria topped Group H after demolishing Botswana 5-0, including a penalty from Riyad Mahrez. Algeria finished the campaign unbeaten, having scored 19 goals in six games.
Patson Daka scored twice to guide Zambia to a 2-0 triumph over neighbour Zimbabwe in Harare.
But Zimbabwe had already booked its place, condemning the 2012 African champion to miss out on the finals.
Gabon and Gambia, which advanced from Group D, both lost their final outings as Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo won back some pride after failing to qualify.
Gabon, without captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang by arrangement with Arsenal, was beaten 2-0 in Luanda while DR Congo edged Gambia 1-0.
- Algeria 5-0 Botswana
- Zimbabwe 0-2 Zambia
- Angola 2-0 Gabon
- Burkina Faso 1-0 South Sudan
- Congo DR 1-0 Gambia
- Egypt 4-0 Comoros
- Malawai 1-0 Uganda
- Togo 1-2 Kenya