2019 AFCON Qualifiers: (Weekend Report) Bafana floors Seychelles, Ighalo hatrick & more
Matchday 3 of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers is well behind us now and it didn’t just depart without leaving some memories that will live forever.
The South African men’s national football team were the biggest entertainers of the weekend, scoring at will and showing off some quick pass attacking football against the Seychelles. It was the visitors who opened the scoring for Bafana in the 23rd minute as Nigel Hoareau unfortunately blasted a wondrous goal into his own net. After that, all hell broke loose for the Pirates. As the rain stopped, it started raining goals and the Southerners took turns scoring an assortment of goals - some from set pieces, with a number for them as a result of successive one touch passing, they call it shoe-shine piano at Mamelodi Sundowns. Tau, who plays from English Premier League side, Brighton on loan in Belgium was amongst the goals but the night belong to Lebo Mothiba. The 22-year-old forward who plays for the French Ligue 1 side RC Strasbourg assisted strike partner, Tau, for the fourth goal of the match in spectacular fashion after he had thumped in a rocket in the first half. He was always involved in the thick of the action and sure looks like an exciting prospect for Bafana. Stuart Baxter’s men now lie top of group E, above Nigeria and are on course to qualify for Cameroon 2019. Next up, they travel to Seychelles on Tuesday for the return fixture.
In the West, Nigeria were hostile hosts to the Mediterranean Knights of Libya running out as 4-0 winners on the day. Chinese Super League based forward, who was far from being impressive at the 2018 world cup for the Super Eagles, Odion Ighalo won some hearts. The 29-year-old bagged the first hatrick of his international career which sent him top of the scoring charts together with Zimbabwe’s Knowledge Musona who is also on four goals so far in the 2019 AFCON qualifiers tournament. Many Arsenal fans will be delighted to hear that Alex Iwobi continued his impressive club form as he controlled the game, also serving up a delightful assist for Ighalo’s second.
Elsewhere, Zimbabwe stunned DR Congo in Kinshasa as they consolidated their position at the top of group G after a hard fought 2-1 win. Substitute, Bolasie pulled one back for the Leopards late on towards stoppage time but Ronald Pfumbidzayi’s strike coupled with Musona’s moment of brilliance had already done the damage. Zim’s neighbors, Botswana, look like they are effectively out of contention for the 2019 AFCON after suffering a 3-0 defeat in Burkina Faso leaving them rooted at the bottom of group I in which the trio of Mauritania, Angola and Burkina Faso are all on 3 points after 3 matches. The Malagasy people are on the verge of celebrating a historic event as the Madagascar national team moved a step closer to qualify for their maiden AFCON tournament after seeing off Equatorial Guinea, 1 - 0 away from home. Should Barea get a second over Equatorial Guinea in Madagascar on Tuesday and provided Senegal repeat the classy performance that earned them a 3-0 win over South Sudan, the two will effectively secure spots at the 2019 AFCON finals.
Tunisia still boast of a perfect record after beating Niger 1-0 in Tunis, Uganda saw off Lesotho 3-0, Namibia fought themselves back into contention beating Mozambique 2-1 from behind, away from home and Morocco narrowly edged Comoros 1-0.
Stay tuned for matchday 4 as the return legs for matchday 3 come to our screens with a few nations eyeing early qualification. Two teams from each group will earn spots at the first 24-team AFCON to run from the 15th of June to 13th July in Cameroon. Who are you rooting for?