AFCON2021 qualifiers: Senegal, Nigeria, Mali secure wins

Africa Cup Of Nations trophy during the 2015 Orange Africa Cup of Nations Final soccer match, Ivory Coast vs Ghana at Bata stadium in Bata, Equatorial Guinea on February 8 2015. Ivory Coast defeated Ghana by 9-8 after the extra time and penalty kicks and claimed the title. Photo by Christian Liewig (Photo by liewig christian/Corbis via Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: Africa Cup Of Nations trophy during an Africa Cup of Nations Final soccer match. (Photo by liewig christian/Corbis via Getty Images)

Africa’s footballing giants emerged victorious in the second round of qualifying matches for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday.

2019 runners-up Senegal remained top of Group I after emerging 4-1 winners away to eSwatini, who finished the game with 10 men.

Famara Diedhiou scored a second-half hat-trick in the 58th, 65th and 67th minutes after missing a penalty in the 10th minute. Fganelo Mamba pulled one back for the hosts only to be sent off three minutes later for a second bookable offence. Pape-Alioune Ndiaye rounded off the scoring for Senegal shortly after Mamba’s dismissal to wrap up an emphatic win.

In the group’s other game, Ibara Doniama, Gamboula and Ibara Doniama scored as Congo beat Guinea Bissau 3-0 to go second behind Senegal.

In Group L, Victor Osimhen netted a brace as Nigeria overcame Lesotho 4-2. Masoabi Nkoto gave Lesotho a shock lead but goals from Alex Iwobi and Samuel Chukuweze put the Super Eagles ahead before Osimhen’s brace pulled them clear. An own goal from Chidozie Awaziem reduced the arrears but it was not enough to mount a comeback.

In the other Group L game, Benin earned its first win of the qualifiers with a 1-0 victory at home to Sierra Leone.

Toni Conceicao claimed his first win as Cameroon coach after the 2021 AFCON hosts edged past Rwanda 1-0 in Group F.

In Group A, Mali and Guinea registered 2-0 wins against Chad and Namibia respectively.

Lebogang Phiri’s goal saw 1996 African champions South Africa claim its first win of the qualifiers with a 1-0 victory against Sudan in Group C.

Uganda went top of Group B following a 2-0 win at home to Malawi while Burkina Faso edged South Sudan 2-1 away.

In Group D, Gabon beat Angola 2-1 thanks to first-half goals from Aaron Boupendza and Denis Bouanga.

The top two sides in 11 of the 12 groups will qualify for the tournament in Cameroon.

Cameroon, who have qualified automatically as hosts, opted to play in the qualifiers to get competitive game time. As a result, only one team from Group F will advance to the tournament.

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