The 2021 Africa Cup Of Nations qualifiers matchday six, which rounded up the Cameroon 2022 qualifiers as the FIFA wind on was fully utilised to ensure that all the 24 teams will participate in the competition.
The day was full of drama as Olusola Adebayo takes a look at the events that make the news headlines
COVID-19 Drama In Lagos And Freetown
Few hours to the match between Nigeria and Lesotho in Lagos, Nigeria midfielder Alex Iwobi was certified COVID-19 negative four days after he tested positive for the virus in the Benin Republic.
In the same vein, five players of Benin Republic tested positive to COVID-19 in Freetown ahead of the make or mar final round match against Sierra Leone in Freetown.
This is coming four days after the players played against Nigeria having certified COVID-19 free.
The team dismissed the claim and failed to honour the match, claiming it’s a ploy to deny them their best legs for the match.
CAF has waded into the matter and has rescheduled the match to the next FIFA window break in June while an investigation into the claims is ongoing.
The five players played in the 1-0 home loss to the Super Eagles four days earlier in Port Novo.
Tunisia Lead Seven Countries To Qualify Unscathed
Seven countries have qualified for the competition without losing any game. Tunisia won five of their six games and drawing one to gather 16 points, the highest during the qualifier.
The other team’s that also qualify without experiencing a defeat are Senegal, Nigeria, Tunisia, Morrocco, Burkina Faso, and Algeria.
Algeria stretched Unbeaten Run To 24
The defending champion takes their unbeaten run in all competitions to 24 after going 6 games during the qualifier.
The run which started in 2018 saw them won the 2019 Nations Cup and they are one of the favourites for the 2022 edition. The North African side are 12 more unbeaten short of the world longest record of 36.
Referee Collapses And stretchered Off
While the match between Sierra Leone vs the Benin Republic did not hold, the match between Cote Divorce and Ethiopia saw only 80 minutes of action as the centre referee collapsed and stretchered off the pitch.
Referee Charles Bulu of Ghana appeared to become disorientated in the 81st minute of the Group K game at Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Abidjan.
Bulu staggered, while Ivorian players held and call for medics but slumped with his eyes closed laying on back on the sideline.
The match was later called off by the assistant referee Gilbert Cheruiyot from Kenya who was assigned to continue the game but elected to end the game without any more play.
Cotedivore was leading 3-1 before the game was called. The result is inconsequential as both sides have qualified for competition before the kickoff.
The Gambia and Comoros Join The Party
The Gambia and Comoros qualified for the competition for the first time after the completion of the qualifying rounds.
No one gave Comoros a chance to make out of the group which has Togo, Kenya and Egypt. But the coach Amir Abdou has other ideas, he quietly combed Europe and gathered Comoros players in diaspora and fashion out a winning formula. They held Egypt in the first match and went to go unbeaten till they qualified on Matchday 5 but losing on the final day to Egypt.
The Gambia topped the group and qualify in style with 3 victories, 2 losses and 1 draw ahead of Gabon, Dr Congo.
South Africa Sacked Ntseki
The qualifier has claimed it’s the first casualty in South Africa as Coach Molefi Ntseki has been sacked for the failure of the Bafana Bafana to qualify.
South Africa lost Sudan by 2-0, on Monday in a match the 1996 winner needed a victory to qualify.
Ntseki sacked was announced by SAFA South African Football Association chief executive Teboho Motlanthe on the evening at a press conference in Soweto on Wednesday.
Here is the list of 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Finalists: Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Ghana, Sudan, The Gambia, Gabon, Morocco, Mauritania, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Egypt, Comoros, Algeria, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Congo, Tunisia-Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Benin/ Sierra Leone.
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