Nigeria qualified for the next AFCON by beating Sierra Leone 3-2 on Sunday thanks to Kelechi Iheanacho’s 95th minute goal, while Tanzania held on for a crucial home win over Niger despite a bizarre late incident when the referee sent off the Tanzanian ball boys for interfering with the ongoing game.
In Tanzania, the ball boys threw numerous balls onto the pitch on at least two occasions, forcing the referee to stop play as Niger launched late attacks in search of an equalizer.
There were at least four balls on the pitch at one point when Niger launched one of their attacks, leading Egyptian referee Mohamed Al Sayd to lose patience and walk over to the ball boys on the touchline to order them off the pitch.
Nevertheless, Tanzania managed to win 1–0 thanks to a 69th-minute goal from Saimon Msuva, which puts them in position to qualify from Group F behind Algeria, who has already booked their place at the 2024 AFCON in Côte d’Ivoire.
Tanzania needs a point from Algeria on the final day of the qualifiers in September to make second place in the group ahead of East African rival Uganda.
Algeria beat Uganda 2-1 on Sunday thanks to winger Mohamed El Amine Amoura.
The Nigerian Eagles were well on the path to victory over Sierra Leone after Victor Osimhen scored twice within 32 minutes, putting the Napoli striker within the same category as Sadio Mané, both top of the qualifying scoring charts with five goals.
Sierra Leone narrowed the gap before half-time, however, and levelled the scores in the 84th minute through Augustus Kargbo.
With around 55 seconds remaining, Nigerian left-back Zaidu Sanusi broke through the defense and crossed for Leicester’s Iheanacho, who’s goal sealed the Super Eagles qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations 2024.
Guinea-Bissau also qualified from Group A alongside Nigeria.
Mané’s Senegal, World Cup semi-finalists Morocco, Egypt and Algeria all qualified, with Egypt securing their place last week by beating Guinea 2-1. Morocco, meanwhile, lost 2-1 in South Africa last Saturday, although both teams had already qualified.
Cameroon, five-time African champions, and Ghana, four-time African champions, are the two biggest teams yet to book their ticket to Côte d’Ivoire. The fate of the Indomitable Lions will be decided in a home match against Burundi in September, by which time the Cameroonians could have dropped to third place in their group.
Ghana was held to a 0-0 draw in Madagascar on Sunday, while a win would have put them in third place.
They now need at least a home draw against the Central African Republic in their final qualifier. Ghana tops Group E, but only two points separate them from second-placed Angola and third-placed Central African Republic.