Ivory Cost stumbles as other former champions win

(Reuters) – Holders Ivory Coast were held to a draw in their first match under new management in Sunday’s African Nations Cup qualifiers but former champions Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt and Zambia all won potentially difficult away games.

There was victory on the road for the Cape Verde Islands, surprise package of the last two tournaments, and rare successes for the Central African Republic and Mauritius.

A weakened Ivory Coast, without captain Yaya Toure, Wilfried Bony and Max Gradel, played out a 0-0 draw with Sierra Leone in their first match under new coach Michel Dussuyer.

The Group I qualifier had been moved to Port Harcourt in Nigeria because Ebola-affected Sierra Leone are banned from hosting any international football.

Two goals in the last three minutes from El Arabi Soudani delivered a 3-1 win for Algeria away to Lesotho and a second successive victory in Group J.

Cameroon’s Vincent Aboubaker scored a 65th minute winner away to the Gambia to add to the last minute goal he netted in the 1-0 victory over Mauritania at the start of Group M in June.

The win keeps Cameroon ahead in the standings after main rivals South Africa slumped to an embarrassing 3-1 defeat in Mauritania.

Egypt, who have missed out on the last three finals, went ahead after two minutes in N’djamena and with Bassem Morsi completing his hat-trick won 5-1 against hosts Chad.

Zambia’s podgy striker Collins Mbesuma, enjoying a surprise recall, scored the winner as the 2012 Nations Cup winners came from behind to beat Kenya 2-1 in Nairobi.

Cape Verde’s Ryan Mendes, who last week moved to English second-tier club Nottingham Forest, netted six minutes into stoppage time as they beat Libya 2-1 in a match played in Cairo because of the unstable security situation in the hosts’ country.

Civil war in the Central African Republic prevented them hosting qualifiers in the last World Cup preliminaries but a first game back in Bangui saw a surprise 2-0 victory over fancied neighbours Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mauritius scored a rare international success as Fabien Pithia’s second-half goal saw them home over Mozambique.

The next set of qualifiers for the 2017 Nations Cup finals will be played in March. African teams now turn their attention to next month’s start of the qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.


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