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Nigeria’s dramatic win over Sierra Leone secures their qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations
The Super Eagles of Nigeria secured their passage to the biennial Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) slated to hold in Cameroon next year, following a pulsating victory against a resilient Sierra Leonean side on Tuesday evening. The match played at the Samuel Kanyon Doe stadium in Monrovia, Liberia ended in a thrilling five-goal thriller.
Kelechi Iheanacho scores late winner as Nigeria survive scare
Leicester City forward Kelechi Iheanacho was the hero as his injury-time goal secured all three points for Gernot Rohr’s team and sealed their place in next year’s tournament. Nigeria started brightly and raced into an early lead courtesy of Napoli striker Victor Osimhen who scored two goals within thirty-two minutes.
The Leone Stars fought back resolutely and took advantage of some sloppy defending by the Nigerians which led to two quick-fire goals from Mustapha Bundu and Augustus Kargbo just before half time. The second-half saw both teams create chances but none could convert until the final moments when substitute Paul Onuachu found space on the left flank, dribbled past his marker before squaring it across goal where Iheanacho pounced on it to send Nigerian fans wild with joy.
Cape Verde qualifies for fourth AFCON appearance despite defeat to Burkina Faso
Meanwhile, Cape Verde was able to qualify for their fourth Africa Cup of Nations despite losing 3-1 at home to Burkina Faso. The Blue Sharks needed a point from the encounter but ended up conceding three first-half goals with Mohamed Koffi grabbing two and Bertrand Traore scoring one.
The hosts fought back valiantly in the second half, dominating play and creating chances but could only manage a single goal courtesy of Julio Tavares’ penalty in stoppage time. Despite the defeat, Cape Verde qualified as one of the best runners-up based on points accumulated across all groups.
Aubameyang’s Gabon lose as DRC secures vital victory
Gabonese record scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned to international football after announcing his retirement earlier this year but couldn’t prevent his side from going down 2-0 at home against an inspired Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) team.
The result saw DRC leapfrog over Gabon into top spot in Group I, leaving Aubameyang’s side needing a win against Sudan in their final match next month if they are to progress. Although Gabon had several chances throughout the game, they were unable to convert any into goals leading to their eventual loss
Equatorial Guinea secure surprise qualification with victory over Tunisia
In another surprising result on Tuesday evening, Equatorial Guinea secured their second successive AFCON appearance by beating Tunisia 1-0 at home. Despite being underdogs for most parts of the campaign and drawn alongside former champions Senegal and Cameroon early this year when preliminary draws were made, Equatorial Guinea made light work of overturning expectations securing victories against Libya twice while drawing both games against Tanzania
The Africa Cup of Nations is known for its unpredictability, and the final round of matches in each group did not disappoint. Fans can look forward to a fiercely contested tournament come January 2023 as twenty-four teams from across Africa battle it out for glory.
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