Seven-time champions Egypt secured a place in the African Nations Cup of the last 16 countries on Wednesday by beating neighboring Sudan 1-0, a result that five other countries, including Côte d’Ivoire, also passed on. Nigeria finished Group D with a third straight win as they defeated Guinea-Bissau 2-0, leaving runner-up Egypt to face the winners of Group E in the next round, and a possible clash with the Ivorians. A header by Mohamed Abdelmonem from a corner 10 minutes before halftime in Yaounde sent the Pharaohs through and eliminated Sudan, while also seeing Ivory Coast, Mali, Gambia, Malawi and Cape Verde qualify without kicking a ball.
“I think without a doubt Egypt deserved to win this game, given the chances we created and the football we played,” said Egyptian coach Carlos Queiroz.
“Our sin was not to score the second goal. If you score the second goal, the game is over. I will say it very clearly, if I will be able to win all the matches 1-0 to the end, I’ll be happy.”
Egypt’s win guaranteed Cape Verde and Malawi to qualify as two of the top four countries in third place. Ivory Coast lead Group E by four points and cannot finish lower than third, regardless of their result against reigning champions Algeria on Thursday.
The same goes for Gambia and Mali in Group F. Both countries have four points from two matches.
Three-time former winner Nigeria continued their good start to the competition, pushing Guinea-Bissau aside thanks to goals in the second half from Umar Sadiq and captain William Troost-Ekong.
– Three in a row for Nigeria –
Nigeria’s interim coach Augustine Eguavoen made eight changes to his team and first place was already secured, but it was Kelechi Iheanacho, the winner of the match against Egypt, who gave the cross to take Sadiq in within 56 minutes. to tap.
Moses Simon came off the bench and starred in Nigeria’s second goal, spinning two defenders in the penalty area past two defenders before hitting the crossbar.
Troost-Ekong turned in the rebound from close range, with an initial offside decision against the defender being overturned by VAR.
The Super Eagles will remain in Garoua on Sunday to play against a third-placed team in the last 16.
Cape Verde will face Sadio Mane’s Senegal in Bafoussam on January 25, while Malawi will face Morocco in Yaounde on the same day after reaching the knockout rounds for the first time.
The remaining three places will be determined on Thursday after the last round of matches in Group E and Group F.
Algeria, whose 35-game unbeaten run was ended by Equatorial Guinea, must beat Ivory Coast in Douala to avoid a shocking early exit after taking just one point from two games.
The Equatoguineans are second in the section that started their game with Sierra Leone, which held Algeria 0-0 in their opener and then grabbed a stoppage time equalizer to tie Ivory Coast 2-2.
Tunisia could be without 12 players, including skipper Wahbi Khazri, against surprise Group F leaders and Gambia debutants due to Covid-19.
The Carthage Eagles, the 2004 winners, will qualify for the last 16 unless they are defeated by six goals or more.
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