Algeria second team after Morocco to qualify for African Cup
Striker Baghdad Bounedjah’s early goal was enough for Algeria to beat Niger 1-0 in African Cup of Nations qualifying on Monday and book its place at the tournament in Ivory Coast next year.
Algeria is the second team to qualify after World Cup semifinalist Morocco.
Bounedjah struck in the sixth minute, putting a shot in the bottom right corner after he was played in by Riyad Mahrez. Algeria held firm in a game played in Tunisia to improve its record to four wins from four in the final qualifiers.
The race is on between Tanzania, Niger and Uganda to take the other qualifying place in Group F alongside Algeria.
Morocco qualified last week without playing after South Africa and Liberia drew 2-2 on Friday. That meant Morocco will definitely take one of the top two places in Group K, which was reduced to a three-team and not four-team group because Zimbabwe was disqualified from the qualifiers.
Morocco celebrated by beating Brazil 2-1 in a friendly on Saturday.
Morocco made history last year in Qatar when it became the first African team to reach the last four of the World Cup and will be considered one of the favorites for the African Cup title next year. The North African nation is enjoying a golden period after hosting FIFA’s Club World Cup in February and being announced this month as part of a joint bid with Spain and Portugal to stage the 2030 World Cup.
Its victory over Brazil was its first against the five-time World Cup winner.
Defending champion Senegal is also top of its African Cup qualifying group and on course to reach the final tournament following forward Sadio Mané’s return to action with his country last week. Senegal can qualify on Tuesday if it wins in Mozambique.
In other qualifiers on Monday, Nigeria gained revenge for a surprise home loss to Guinea-Bissau on Friday by winning in Guinea-Bissau 1-0. Moses Simon converted a penalty in the 30th minute to put Nigeria back on top of Group A.
Angola and Ghana drew 1-1 and Ghana leads a tight Group E by a point from Central African Republic, and three points from third-placed Angola with two rounds of games to play.