DURBAN, South Africa: Record winners Egypt were among the heavyweights who moved to the brink of African Nations Cup qualification on Tuesday but 2013 champions Nigeria are out and South Africa’s hopes of making next year’s finals are hanging by a thread.
Seven-times champions Egypt need only one more point after teenager Ramadhan Sobhi gave them a 1-0 win over Nigeria in Alexandria and condemned the powerful Super Eagles to a second tournament on the sidelines.
A low shot from Sobhi in the 65th minute means Egypt need only draw their last qualifier away against Tanzania in June to return to the finals after missing three successive editions.
Nigeria, who are five points adrift in Group G with one game to go, will sit out the 2017 finals in Gabon as they did in Equatorial Guinea last year after winning the 2013 edition in South Africa.
Senegal also require a point from their last two games after going six clear in Group K with a 2-1 win in Niger where Moussa Konate and Pape Ndiaye Souare scored for the visitors.
A double from Youssef El Arabi moved Morocco to within a point of the finals after beating the Cape Verde Islands 2-0 in Marrakech. They kept up their 100 percent record in Group F by beating the continent’s top-ranked team for the second time.
Algeria came from behind three times to draw 3-3 away against Ethiopia.
An 85th-minute penalty converted by defender Faouzi Ghoulam gave them a share of the spoils in Addis Ababa and moved them five points clear in Group J with two rounds to play.
Cameroon moved closer to qualification with a goalless draw in Durban against South Africa, who are without a win after four Group M matches and facing a likely elimination.
“We had hoped for a win to make our position even more secure but this was a good result,” said Cameroon’s new coach Hugo Broos.
Liberia top Group A after beating Djibouti 5-0 at home while the Democratic Republic of Congo are Group B leaders after beating Angola 2-0 away with second-half goals from Joel Kimwaki and Jonathan Bolingi.
Guinea revived their hopes by winning 2-1 in Malawi but Togo failed to make the most of the return of striker Emmanuel Adebayor to their side and were held to a 0-0 home draw by Tunisia.
The next round of qualifying in June will be followed by a last set of preliminaries in September. Hosts Gabon will be joined by 13 qualifying group winners and the best two runners-up