JOHANNESBURG Holders Ivory Coast booked their place in next year’s African Nations Cup finals as Jonathan Kodjia scored a spectacular goal to secure a draw against Sierra Leone in Bouake on Saturday.
Kodija, who signed for Aston Villa this week before taking his place in the starting line-up for the African champions, netted the first goal in a 1-1 draw for the Ivorians, who needed a point to book their place in the finals.
They had a nervy passage, however, as American-based striker Kei Kamara equalised in the 66th minute and had a header cleared off the line by Eric Bailly with the last touch of the game. A win would have handed Sierra Leone a return to the Nations Cup finals for the first time in two decades. The Ivorians were the 11th country to book their place at the tournament in Gabon in January. The final five slots will be decided on Sunday.
A second-half penalty from Salahedine Said ensured Ethiopia edged the Seychelles 2-1 in Hawassa to take second place in Group J and stay in contention to take one of the two places at the finals reserved for the best runners-up in the 13 groups.
But Ethiopia must wait for the outcome of several matches on Sunday before they know their fate.
Senegal made it six wins out of six in Group K with a 2-0 victory over Namibia in Dakar. Their goals were scored by Diao Balde Keita and Famara Diedhiou.
Ghana, who also qualified in June, were stung by a late free-kick equaliser from Muhadjiri Hakizimana and were held 1-1 at home by lowly Rwanda. Kelechi Iheanacho hammered home from outside the penalty area to earn Nigeria a 1-0 win over Tanzania in Gernot Rohr’s debut as coach. The Super Eagles, however, had already been eliminated from the competition.
A home loss to Libya sent the Cape Verde Islands out after they had qualified for the last two African Nations Cup finals.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)