Burkina Faso, Senegal and South Africa secured their qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations on matchday four, while Namibia is close to joining them after defeating Cameroon. Reigning African Footballer of the Year, Sadio Mane, set up Boulaye Dia’s first-half goal as Senegal claimed a 1-0 win over Mozambique. The result helped Senegal take an eight-point lead in Group L. Mihlali Mayambela scored the winner for South Africa in their 2-1 win over Liberia in Monrovia, putting them on eight points and joining 2022 World Cup semifinalists Morocco as the Group K qualifiers.

Meanwhile, Burkina Faso needed just one point from their visit to Togo to qualify, and they drew 1-1, with Dango Ouattara giving the visiting side an early lead that Kodjo Laba cancelled out in Lome. Captain Peter Shalulile opened the scoring for Namibia, who replaced Cameroon as Group C table-toppers by winning 2-1 in Soweto near Johannesburg.

Senegal has stretched their perfect group record to four wins, but it was a much closer contest against Mozambique than last week when the Teranga Lions romped to a 5-1 victory at home. Mozambique remain second but will be overtaken if Rwanda wins at home to Benin in Kigali on Wednesday.

Zakhele Lepasa put South Africa ahead, although William Jebor levelled for Liberia before half-time after a blunder by captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams. Another goalkeeping howler, this time by Liberian Thomas Songo, gifted Mayambela the crucial goal eight minutes into the second half. South Africa coach Hugo Broos praised his team for their perseverance, saying that coping with the physicality of the Liberians was a real challenge, but fortunately, they chose the right players in the right positions and coped.

Morocco, the first African or Arab nation to reach the World Cup semifinals, did not play as scheduled opponents Zimbabwe were barred due to government interference in the sport. Cameroon football boss and former star Samuel Eto’o looked on from the stand as his team lacking injured forward Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Karl Toko Ekambi came off second best. Shalulile and Absalom Iimbondi scored in the second half for the Brave Warriors before Vincent Aboubakar snatched an added-time consolation goal for the Indomitable Lions. Namibia have five points and Cameroon four, and both must face Burundi, who have only one point but are not out of the running for a top-two finish.

Algeria clinched qualification from Group F on Monday, but who accompanies them as runners-up is wide open after Uganda upset Tanzania 1-0 in Dar es Salaam through a late Rogers Mato goal. Tanzania and Uganda have four points each and Niger two with two rounds to come, in June and September. Liverpool star Mohamed Salah netted as Egypt hammered Malawi 4-0 in Lilongwe to join Guinea at the top of Group D.

In conclusion, it was a thrilling matchday four with Burkina Faso, Senegal, and South Africa all qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations, and Namibia close to joining them. However, the race is still open for many teams, and there is plenty to look forward to in the upcoming rounds in June and September.

Picture Credit: Yahoo Sport UK
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