Cameroon beat C. d’Ivoire to seal play-off spot

Cameroon beat Cote d’Ivoire 1-0 in a contest of two continental heavyweights to join Algeria, Nigeria and Tunisia in securing the last four places in March’s African World Cup playoffs as the group phase came to a dramatic conclusion on Tuesday.

Karl Toko Ekambi scored for Cameroon as they snatched a narrow home win over Cote d’Ivoire in a clash full of tension, but without many clear chances.

Cameroon had been one point behind in the Group D standings, but took top spot to advance to the play-offs.

Goalkeeper Andre Onana, back from a nine-month drug ban, made several key saves for Cameroon to help them survive a late onslaught and hold on for the win.

Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea were level on 10 points in Group B when they kicked off their respective games but Tunisia romped into an early three-goal lead before beating Zambia 3-1 at home while Equatorial Guinea drew 1-1 away in Mauritania.

African champions Algeria and Nigeria made heavy work of booking their places, but home draws proved enough for them also to progress.

Algeria were twice ahead against Burkina Faso, with Riyad Mahrez grabbing their first goal, but a late penalty saw them held to a 2-2 draw in Blida. Algeria finished with 14 points in Group A, two ahead of the Burkinabe.

Nigeria scored in the first minute through Victor Osimhen but quickly gave up an equaliser to the Cape Verde Islands, who had to win to take top spot in Group C. The 1-1 draw in Lagos left Nigeria top on 13 points and Cape Verde second on 11.

The four countries join the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Mali, Morocco and Senegal in the play-offs.

The 10 teams will be drawn into five two-legged ties with the aggregate winners representing Africa at the World Cup finals in Qatar. – Reuters

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