DURBAN South Africa (Reuters) - Senegal led a list of six countries into the African Nations Cup finals on Saturday as they eliminated record winners Egypt with a 1-0 win in Cairo to qualify for January’s tournament.
Senegal ensured they would finish in the top two in Group G on a busy day of qualifiers which also saw Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, South Africa and 2012 winners Zambia book their tickets with six more berths to be decided on the last day of qualifiers on Wednesday.
A 2-0 win in Congo for defending champions Nigeria helped them revive their chances but Ghana lost in a surprise setback in Uganda and must win in midweek to be sure they qualify.
Mame Biram Diouf returned to Senegal’s lineup after injury last month to score the eighth-minute goal that sealed qualification and knocked out seven-times champions Egypt.
South Africa were the first side on Saturday to add themselves to the list of finalists which already had Algeria and the Cape Verde Islands through last month. Tunisia advanced on Friday and Equatorial Guinea were included in the field as new hosts after Morocco’s pull out because of Ebola fears.
Goals from Thulani Serero and Tokelo Rantie ensured a 2-1 win in Durban for South Africa over Sudan and top place in Group A.
Nigeria will finish second if they beat South Africa when they host them on Wednesday after goals from Ikechukwu Uche and Aaron Samuel secured Saturday’s victory in Pointe Noire over the Congolese.
Vincent Aboubakar scored the only goal of the game for Cameroon 20 minutes from time at home against the Democratic Republic of Congo to ensure top place in their group.
Only one goal was needed to settle the top two places in Group C as Gabon’s goalless draw in Angola confirmed their qualification, along with that of Burkina Faso who had won 1-0 earlier in Lesotho with Jonathan Pitroipa scoring after three minutes.
Zambia made sure of their progress with a 1-0 away win over Mozambique in Maputo as Given Singuluma scored midway through the second half.
Ghana remained top of Group E despite losing 1-0 in Uganda while a hat-trick from Seydouba Soumah saw Guinea win 4-1 in Togo for whom captain Emmanuel Adebayor got a consolation goal from the penalty spot. Qualification places from the group will be decided in the last round of matches.
The top two in each group qualify plus the best placed third team. The finals are in Equatorial Guinea from Jan. 17-Feb. 8.
Editing by Mark Meadows; firstname.lastname@example.org; +27 82 8257807; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com