Riots and laser controversy: African countries seal their place at the World Cup
The African World Cup qualifiers came to a close last night and the games were filled with drama and controversy as we found out the five CAF countries who will compete at the World Cup in Qatar later this year.
Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco and Tunisia came out on top in the play-offs to seal their place at the 2022 World Cup but who did they beat to get there?
Senegal 1-1 Egypt (Senegal win 3-1 on penalties)
A repeat of last months AFCON final again saw Senegal come out on top in a penalty shoot-out once again.
Egypt took a 1-0 advantage in to last nights fixture after victory in the first leg. An own goal from Senegal’s Saliou Ciss after 4 minutes was the only goal of the game but it wasn’t enough to see Egypt win the tie.
Senegal also 1-0 won in last night’s match with another early goal putting the hosts in the lead and level on aggregate. Boulaye Dia’s goal after just 3 minutes was the only time the ball hit the back of the net in 90 minutes of regulation time and 30 minutes of extra time. After 210 minutes across two games, the teams couldn’t be separated and penalties were required.
Home advantage played a massive part in the penalty shoot-out, the Senegal fans shone green lasers into the eyes of the Egyptian players as they prepared to take their spot kicks.
Both teams missed their first penalty, including Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. Salah is usually reliable from the penalty spot and came under scrutiny after last months AFCON final penalty shoot-out. This was due to him not taking one of the first few penalties and missing his chance of taking one because Egypt lost the shoot-out before he got to take their fifth penalty.
However, Egypt’s decision to let Salah take the first penalty this time around didn’t pay off and he skied his penalty over the bar.
History repeated itself when Sadio Mane dispatched the final penalty of the shoot-out to win the tie for Senegal and send them to the World Cup. Mane scored the winning penalty in the AFCON final and was the hero yet again yesterday.
Sadio Mane scored the decisive penalty for Senegal to book their place at the World Cup at the expense of Mo Salah's Egypt ???? pic.twitter.com/HZ2anDNnlE
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 30, 2022
Algeria 2-2 Cameroon (Cameroon win on away goals)
Late drama was on shown in abundance as the away goal rule saw Cameroon reach the 2022 World Cup.
The first leg saw Algeria run out 1-0 winners in Cameroon thanks to a Islam Slimani goal but they couldn’t make home advantage count in the second leg.
Cameroon raced into the lead thanks to a goal from Jean-Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting after 22 minutes. With the tie level at 1-1, neither team could find a winning goal in 90 minutes and the game went to extra time.
Slimani thought he had given the hosts the lead in the 98th minute but VAR ruled it out due to a handball.
The game looked like it was heading to penalties until Algeria’s Ahmed Touba headed the hosts in to an aggregate lead after 118 minutes. However, this surprisingly wouldn’t be the last goal of the game.
Lyon forward Karl Toko Ekambi struck in the 124th minute to break Algerian hearts and send Cameroon through to the World Cup on away goals.
The goal by toko ekambi that qualified Cameroon to the WC pic.twitter.com/7kLlzqXHIG
— . (@ManuDaGoat_) March 29, 2022
Nigeria 1-1 Ghana (Ghana win on away goals)
Another tie was decided on away goals as Nigeria failed to make it to the World Cup for the first time since 2006.
The first leg in Ghana ended in a 0-0 draw, this may have seemed a good result for Nigeria but any positivity was shot down quickly in the second leg.
Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey put Ghana ahead in the 10th minute, the goal was ultimately worth 2 as Nigeria could score an equaliser and Ghana would still go through on away goals, this is exactly what happened.
Ghana’s lead on the night didn’t last long but a second goal eluded the hosts. Watford defender William Troost-Ekong scored the equaliser from the penalty spot after 22 minutes and 1-1 was how the game would finish.
The result didn’t go down well with the Nigeria fans and they took it upon themselves to show their disgust. Fans stormed the pitch after the game and started hurling objects at the tunnel.
Frustrated Nigerian football fans after crashing out of world cup stormed stadium destroy things… pic.twitter.com/6L8GBR7ICo
— Emeka Gift Official (@EmekaGift100) March 29, 2022
Morocco 5-2 DR Congo
Morocco blew DR Congo away in the second leg to set up back-to-back appearances at the World Cup.
The first leg ended 1-1 in Kinshasa; DR Congo took the lead in the first half thanks to Brentford’s Yoane Wissa but this was cancelled out in the 76th minute. Tarik Tissoudali scored the equaliser for Morocco to set up a mouth-watering second leg.
2 first half goals from Azzedine Ounahi and Tissoudali gave Morocco a commanding lead at half time of the second leg and the hosts would put the tie beyond doubt after the break.
Ounahi grabbed his second goal of the game in the 54th minute and PSG star Achraf Hakimi made it 4-0 with 20 minutes to go.
Ben Malango scored a consolation goal for DR Congo after 77 minutes and the game finished 4-1 to Morocco.
After a 20-year absence from the World Cup from 1998 to 2018, Morocco will now compete at their second successive World Cup.
Tunisia 1-0 Mali
A nightmare first leg performance from Mali’s Moussa Sissako ultimately decided this tie.
Sissako misplaced a back pass past his own goalkeeper in the 36th minute to hand Tunisia the lead and his misery was compounded just 4 minutes later.
Sissako fouled a Tunisia forward just outside the box as he bared down on goal and the referee showed no hesitation in showing him a red card.
The own goal was the only goal of the game and ended up being the only goal of the entire tie after last nights game ended in a 0-0 draw.
It was a rather cruel way for a World Cup qualifier to be settled but Tunisia won’t care how they’ve done it.
The defeat leaves Mali still chasing their first World Cup qualification.
Mali's defender, Moussa Sissako, scores this own goal and gets sent off four minutes later, securing Tunisia's win in Bamako. Must be a very a tragic day for him! I feel so sorry for him. pic.twitter.com/4hloHyMamy
— ???????????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????©✍???? (@domynych) March 26, 2022
The five countries who came out on top in the CAF qualifiers know that they are carrying the hopes and dreams of a continent on their shoulders and each nation will look to make history in Qatar. No African country has ever made it to the semi-finals of a World Cup so it will interesting to see how far each country goes in the tournament. Can any of these African countries make it the semi-finals of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar?