Senegal advances in WC qualifying, fans return in S. Africa

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Senegal became the first team to advance to the final round of World Cup qualifying in Africa after Famara Diedhiou’s hat trick secured a 3-1 win over Namibia on Tuesday.
Sadio Mane provided the crosses for Diedhiou’s first and third goals at Orlando Stadium in South Africa and Senegal’s fourth win from four games ensured top spot in Group H with two games still to play. That secured Senegal a place in the decisive playoffs next year which will decide Africa’s five teams at the World Cup in Qatar.
A short distance away in Johannesburg, South Africa beat Ethiopia 1-0 to give returning fans some cheer and keep Bafana Bafana ahead of Ghana in the race to progress from Group G. Only the 10 group winners will make the playoffs.
South Africa allowed 2,000 supporters to attend the game at FNB Stadium, the first time spectators have been allowed at any major sports event in the country since the start of the pandemic. South Africa won thanks to Getane Kebedeh’s early own goal, as he sliced an attempted clearance into his own net.
Ghana is just a point behind South Africa after a second win over Zimbabwe in the space of four days. Thomas Partey’s 31st-minute free kick flew through the hands of goalkeeper Talbert Shumba, who then did use his hands to cover his face. Ghana won 1-0.
That gave new coach Milovan Rajevac a second straight win to start his second spell in charge of Ghana. Rajevac was coach when Ghana made the quarterfinals of the 2010 World Cup, the last African team to go that far.
The group is now between South Africa and Ghana — with Ethiopia and Zimbabwe out of contention — and they’ll meet in the final round of games next month.
Also on track for the playoffs, although not quite there, is African champion Algeria, which beat Niger 4-0 on Tuesday having defeated the same team 6-1 last week.
Algeria got an early wake-up call when Niger hit the post in the 10th minute. Riyad Mahrez put Algeria ahead by sweeping in a cross from Baghdad Bounedjah 10 minutes later and Mahrez returned the favor to set up Bounedjah for the fourth. In between, Aissa Mandi and Ismael Bennacer were also on target and Algeria put the game to bed with four goals in the space of 34 minutes — two before halftime and two straight after.
Algeria has scored 19 goals in its four group games but is level at the top of Group A with Burkina Faso. The two teams drew 1-1 when they met last month and will play what’s likely to be the group decider in Algeria next month.
If Algeria fails to go through it will be a major surprise.
Tunisia, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Mali and Egypt all lead their groups and are on course to progress. Tanzania, which has never been to the World Cup, narrowly leads Group J on goals scored ahead of Benin.
Morocco will follow Senegal into the playoffs if it beats Guinea later on Tuesday.

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Publish date : 2021-10-12 21:03:35

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