Malawi National Football Team’s 1-0 beating of Uganda to qualify for the finals of next year’s African Cup of Nations in Cameroon is one of Confederation of African Football (Caf)’s five talking points.
The Flames sent the entire nation into wild celebrations after making it to the continental showpiece for the third time courtesy of Richard Mbulu’s header at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Monday.
A Cafonline report describes Uganda’s failure to secure a third straight appearance as the most spectacular.
“The Cranes garnered seven points from a possible nine by the halfway stage in Group B and seemed certain to finish among the top two.
“A shock defeat by South Sudan and a draw with Burkina Faso left them needing a point in Malawi to go through, but they lost 1-0 and veteran goalkeeper Denis Onyango wept at the final whistle,” the report reads.
The report’s other talking point is the qualification of minnows Comoros and the Gambia, who will be making debut appearances.
“They will hope to at least match Madagascar, who marked their maiden appearance in 2019 by defeating Nigeria en route to the quarter-finals.
The countries who have never qualified are the Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, eSwatini, Lesotho, Sao Tome e Principe, the Seychelles, Somalia and South Sudan,” it reads.
The other talking point is that of defending champions Algeria, who stretched an unbeaten run in competitive and friendly matches to 24 by hammering Botswana 5-0 in the final round.
“It began in November 2019 with a 4-1 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying victory in Togo, and the Desert Foxes have since won 17 matches and drawn seven, scoring 51 goals and conceding 16.
“Algeria must stay unbeaten for three more matches to better the record of the Ivory Coast, who went 26 matches without losing between 2011 and 2013,” the report adds.
Former champions Tunisia were rated the best performers of the 48 teams that started the group phase, collecting 16 points out of a possible 18 and winning Group J at a canter.
Sierra Leone and Benin did not play in Freetown on Tuesday because the visitors challenged Covid test results that would have ruled five out of their squad.
The fixture has been rescheduled for the May 31- June 15 international window with Sierra Leone trailing Benin by three points in Group L and needing a victory to overtake them and qualify.