CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - The Cape Verde Islands will compete at the African Nations Cup finals for the first time next year after Sunday’s sensational elimination of Cameroon.
They are the surprise package in a mostly familiar cast for the 16-team tournament as eight countries qualified to complete the line-up for the finals in South Africa in January.
The Cape Verde, a Portuguese-speaking island archipelago off the west coast of Africa, has a population of some 500 000 but managed to edge four-time winners Cameroon 3-2 on aggregate, successfully holding on to their first-leg lead against one of African soccer’s super powers.
Cameroon won 2-1 in Yaounde on Sunday with a stoppage-time goal from 16-year-old Fabrice Olinga but were more than matched by their under-rated opponents, who had a surprise 2-0 win in last month’s first leg.
Two goals in three minutes from Alula Girma and Sahaleddine Said just after the hour mark meant Ethiopia beat Sudan 2-0 in Addis Ababa to qualify for the first time in three decades on the away goals rule.
Niger substitute Issoufou Boubacar Garba netted five minutes from the end to give his country a 2-1 aggregate triumph over Guinea.
Burkina Faso left it even later for their 3-1 home win over the Central African Republic, just when it looked as if they would be eliminated. Alain Traore’s stoppage-time goal gave them their ticket 3-2 on aggregate after they had gone behind in the first half.
Emmanuel Adebayor got the decisive goal for Togo as they beat Gabon 2-1 on the day and 3-2 on aggregate to return to the finals for the first time since the 2010 tournament in Angola where their team bus was fired on by separatists, killing an assistant coach and press officer.
Former Manchester United striker Manucho proved Angola’s hero with a two-goal blitz inside the first five minutes in Luanda as they beat Zimbabwe 2-0 to go through on the away goals rule.
Algeria beat Libya 2-0 in Blida in the last of the weekend’s qualifiers to add to a 1-0 win in the first leg last month in a tempestuous match punctuated by persistent fouling and a lengthy second-half stoppage as the Libyans complained about the refereeing.
The Democratic Republic of Congo are also through despite losing 2-1 to Equatorial Guinea, who were co-hosts of the last finals earlier this year. Congo had a 4-0 lead from the first leg.
On Saturday, Ghana, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia and champions Zambia all qualified.
The Ivory Coast will likely join them after their match in Senegal was abandoned because of a riot with the visitors leading 2-0, but this is still to be confirmed by the Confederation of African Football.
Editing By Alison Wildey