- Tunisia and Senegal both picked 1-0 wins
- South Africa held on to beat Liberia 2-1
- There are two more rounds of matches to be played
Defending champions Senegal, Tunisia and South Africa have both qualified for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations after picking up favourable results following the conclusion of the fourth round of matches this international week.
Senegal won 1-0 away to Mozambique, Tunisia won 1-0 away to Libya in Benghazi, while South Africa held their nerves to win 2-1 away to Liberia in Monrovia.
In Maputo, The Mozambicans had shown an improved performance from their 5-1 defeat last week away from home, but still, the Lions of Teranga were stronger than them.
Senegal head coach Aliou Cisse was full of praise for his players especially after picking victory in a difficult hunting ground.
“Not many teams have come here and won. Senegal has often left unhappy from Mozambique but today, we are really happy with our performance. We are very satisfied. We had come to seek for qualification and we achieved it,” said Cisse.
He added; “I congratulate my players. Their mental strength is magnificent.”
Cisse has added on that he will use the last two matches of the qualifiers to rotate the squad and give more players a chance to prove their worth ahead of the tournament.
Senegal move to 12 points
Senegal have moved to 12 points with four straight wins, while Mozambique remain second on four points, two ahead of Rwanda who face Benin on Wednesday.
Boulaye Dia scored the lone goal for the Teranga Lions in the 18th minute, finishing off a Sadio Mane pass.
In Benghazi, Tunisia clinched a precious slim victory that ensures they have a place in Ivory Coast.
The victory moved them to 10 points top of Group J, one ahead of second placed Equatorial Guinea and seven ahead of the Libyans with two rounds of matches left.
Tunisia achieved their qualification on an unbeaten record and without conceding a goal, a statistic that excited head coach Jalel Kadri.
“We guaranteed qualification to the African Cup of Nations, and Tunisia is the only team in the qualifiers that did not concede any goal so far. Accordingly we confirmed our technical value in the defense system, and a great work awaits us in the attack to score,” the tactician said.
He was also delighted with the performance of his side against a tough Libya side at their backyard in Benghazi.
“We achieved a difficult victory, in a difficult stadium and against a difficult opponent. We did not let the opponent take the initiative and we controlled the course of the match. I thank the players and their experience decided the outcome of the match,” the tactician added.
Libya still have outside chance
While Tunisia have earned a place in the final tournament, Libya will have an outside chance to qualify, but that is dependent on whether Equatorial Guinea will lose both their matches in June.
Haythem Jouini scored the lone goal for Tunisia in the 16th minute, powering home a header from Ali Maaloul’s corner.
Libya had chances to score, but they were not calm and relaxed infront of goal, seeing many chances go begging.
Their keeper Muad Allafi made two good saves in the dying minutes of the match to deny substitute Seifeddine Jaziri.
Elsewhere in Monrovia, South Africa had to hold on for dear life in the last few minutes of the game with two goal-line clearances in the last five minutes, Liberia threatening to pull another great comeback.
Zakhele Lepasa had given the South Africans a 19th minute lead, when he raced to a Thapelo Morena dropped pass behind the defense before slotting low past the keeper.
However, the hard fighting Liberians drew level 10 minutes to halftime through skipper William Jebor. The lanky forward picked up the ball from distance and pulled the trigger, the power of the ball being too much for keeper Ronwen Williams who saw the ball slip through his fingers.
In the second half, under pressure South Africa tidied up their act and they got back into the lead nine minutes after the restart when Mihlali Mayambela slotted home from close range, reacting fastest to a spill from the keeper.
Despite some nervous moments, South Africa held on for the win.