African champions Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon and Tunisia completed the roster for the play-off round of the qualifiers for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup after they picked victories in their final group matches on Tuesday.
Algeria 2-2 Burkina Faso
In Blida, unbeaten Algeria had to play with their hearts in their mouths in the last seven minutes of the game as they held on against a resilient Burkina Faso.
Issoufou Dayo had scored from the penalty spot to draw the Burkinabe level and they were determined to get the win that would have seen them not only break Algeria’s unbeaten run but also earn them a place in the play-off.
However, the home side defended well to guard the point that takes them closer to a ticket to Qatar.
Nigeria 1-1 Cape Verde
Elsewhere, Nigeria did the minimum required to progress to the play off round, the point against Cape Verde preserving their place on top.
They had a dream start when Victor Osimhen opened the scoring with a neat low finish after Moses Simon’s cross was poorly cleared out.
However, Cape Verde, who needed a win away from home to progress drew level five minutes later when Ianique dos Santos Tavares rushed sliding in at the backpost to connect to a Kenny Rocha Santos corner.
Alex Iwobi had a chance to take Nigeria back infront but his shot from distance was well handled by the keeper. Joe Aribo also came close for the Super Eagles, but his low drive off Odion Ighalo’s set up was once again saved by the keeper.
None of the two sides could add more to the scoresheet as Nigeria did just but enough to sail to the next round.
Cameroon 1-0 Côte d’Ivoire
In Yaounde, pressure was on the host side as they came into the final match day trailing the Ivorians in the group and needed to win at all costs to ensure they earned a place in the play-off.
They started strongly pinning Côte d’Ivoire in their own half and pushed on by the home crowd. They eventually got the opener in the 21st minute when Karl Toko Ekambi smashed the ball into the roof of the net after being played through by Martin Hongla.
It was the exact start that Cameroon had yearned for and now turned the pressure tide on the visitors.
In the second half, Côte d’Ivoire piled the pressure and they came closest in the 70th minute when Sebastian Haller saw his header off a cross from the right clip the crossbar.
Substitutes Nicolas Pepe and Aboubacar Sangare also came close, Pepe’s low shot after cutting in from the right being deflected away while Sangare’s low shot went inches wide with Onana well beaten.
Despite the increased pressure, Cameroon held on to their nerves to see off the victory and secure the ticket.
Tunisia 3-1 Zambia
In Rades, Tunisia went to the last match day level on points with Equatorial Guinea and had to win to ensure they progress.
They got into the lead in the 18th minute through Aissa Laidouni who swing in a sweet volley after a cross from the right was headed to his path. They had a chance to double their lead in the 28th minute when Wahbi Khazri was fouled inside the area by the keeper.
The captain took responsibility but saw his spot kick saved.
His blushes were however wiped two minutes later when Mohamed Drager scored the second finishing off a sweet one two finish started off by Khazri at the edge of the box.
They got their third two minutes from halftime when Ali Maaloul brilliantly swept the ball home inside the box after the Zambian defense was caught flat out.
The visitors scored their consolation in the 80th minute when Fashion Sakala scored on the second bite of the cherry off the penalty spot after his initial effort was saved.