Morocco, Sudan complete qualifiers for African Cup

BY foxsports • October 10, 2011

Morocco and Sudan claimed the last two places at next year's African Cup of Nations as a qualifying competition full of shocks wrapped up on Sunday with another big team missing out on the continent's top tournament.

Last year's World Cup qualifier Algeria won't be at the African championship, but the Moroccans avoided the surprise failure experienced by former Cup of Nations winners Egypt, Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa.

Morocco went through ahead of underdog Central African Republic and the Algerians on the final day of matches with a 3-1 win over Tanzania in Marrakech.

Sudan qualified for just its second Cup of Nations since 1976 when it was confirmed as one of the two best second-placed teams alongside Libya.

Earlier Sunday, brothers Kolo and Yaya Toure scored to give Ivory Coast a 2-1 win over Burundi and ensure their side finished as the only team with a perfect record in qualifying.

Ivory Coast had already reached the finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and finished 12 points clear at the top of Group H after six wins from six games.

Senegal wrapped up its campaign unbeaten with a 2-0 victory at winless Mauritius in Group E. The Senegalese had also already secured a place at the finals.

But the dominant runs of Ivory Coast and Senegal were not repeated by other heavyweights of African football and the winners of eight of the last nine Cup of Nations titles won't make the trip in 2012 - with three-time defending champion and seven-time winner Egypt the biggest absence.

Four of the six African teams that played in last year's World Cup have not made their own continental tournament.

Instead, Niger and Botswana will make their debuts at the Cup of Nations when it kicks off in January and Guinea ousted Nigeria. Mali, Zambia, the Libyans, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Angola all also progressed to the 16-team event alongside the co-hosts.

Arsenal's Marouane Chamakh headed in from a corner for coach Eric Gerets' Morocco in the 20th minute to send it on its way against Tanzania. The host then shrugged off a 40-meter equalizer by Mbwana Samata to go ahead again through Adel Taarabt. Mbarek Boussouta grabbed Morocco's third in the 90th.

''We tried to apply the instructions of the coach and we beat the Tanzanian team, which wasn't easy,'' Morocco captain Houcine Kharja said. ''We dedicate our victory to the Moroccan people.''

Central African Republic's attempt to reach its first Cup of Nations - and continue the trend of unexpected qualifiers - finally fell short with a 2-0 loss in Algeria in the other Group D match.

In Abidjan, Kolo Toure put Ivory Coast ahead in the 77th, before Dugary Nolabashinze equalized for Burundi. Yaya Toure stole a late winner to keep the Elephants' 100 percent record.

Dame Ndoye and Papiss Cisse netted for Senegal against 10-man Mauritius for a fifth win in six qualifiers, with only a goalless draw in Cameroon spoiling its qualifying record.

The fallout from two high-profile failures also began on Sunday with the Nigeria Football Federation demanding an explanation from coach Samson Siasia after the Super Eagles blew their chance with a 2-2 home draw with Guinea.

The NFF called two emergency meetings in the 24 hours after Saturday's game and gave Siasia 48 hours to answer questions on what it called ''the embarrassment brought to the nation.''

Stung by its failure - and also embarrassed after a farcical mix-up in which players celebrated a 0-0 draw with Sierra Leone thinking it was enough to see them through - South Africa appealed to the Confederation of African Football to be allowed in to the tournament instead of Niger.

The South African Football Association said it was challenging CAF's interpretation of the rules after Niger went through ahead of Bafana Bafana and Sierra Leone when all three finished on nine points.

South Africa believes it should have qualified from Group G on goal difference, but CAF rules say head-to-head results between teams tied on points decides who goes through.

Namibia also has an appeal being considered by Africa's ruling body which could see Burkina Faso thrown out of the Cup of Nations for fielding an ineligible player and Namibia replace it. Namibia complained that Cameroon-born defender Herve Zengue does not qualify to play for Burkina Faso.


Associated Press writers Aziz El Yaakoubi in Rabat, Morocco and Aomar Ouali in Algiers, Algeria contributed to this report.


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