With the 2019 Afcon qualifiers in its final stretch, the excitement was certainly at fever pitch, and fans were not disappointed by the action on Saturday.
With several teams including the likes of continental giants Nigeria, Egypt and Morocco already booking their ticket to Africa’s showcase, many other teams were looking to join them.
One such team was Burundi, who were eager to make their very first appearance at the Afcon finals in Egypt, and they made sure of qualification as they held a Gabon outfit which included Pierre Emerick Aubameyang to a 1-1 draw.
Cedric Amissi put Burundi ahead in the 77th minute before an own goal from Omar Ngando levelled matters. The point was enough to see Burundi write their name into the history books, while Gabon missed out on another Afcon berth.
Meanwhile, Cameroon joined Burundi by being the next side to secure an Afcon ticket as they claimed a comfortable 3-0 win thanks to goals by Eric Choupo-Moting, Christian Bassogog and Clinton Njie.
Elsewhere, Namibia amazingly squeezed through to Egypt 2019 even though Zambia hammered them 4-1. A brace from Orlando Pirates attacker Augustine Mulenga, along with goals by Donashano Malama and Lazarous Kambole saw Chipolopolo romp to a resounding win and ended a rather disappointing campaign for them. Zambia finished bottom of Group K and Mozambique failed to take advantage of Namibia’s slip up.
Mozambique eventually finished behind the Brave Warriors. The coastal nation was 2-1 up against Guinea Bissau heading into the final 10-minutes with qualification in sight but in stoppage time Mambas’ hearts were broken. Nelson scored very late to make it 2-2, depriving the away side of a place in Egypt. This turned out to be a defining moment for Nambia to qualify.
In Group H, Ivory Coast ended their campaign on a high with a 3-0 win over Rwanda. The Ivorians finished second on 11 points after Nicolas Pepe, Eric Bailly and Maxwell Cornet netted.
In another late game, Senegal continued to assert their dominance on the continent as they walked away with a comfortable 2-0 win over Madagascar. While the game was a relative dead rubber considering that both sides had booked their respective places in Egypt, Senegal delivered a real message to the rest of the continent.
Mbaye Niang netted twice, opening the scoring in the 27th minute before striking again within minutes of the restart.
Lastly, Mali remained unbeaten throughout their qualifying campaign as they earned a 3-0 win over South Sudan, who tasted their sixth defeat and finished a disappointing qualifying campaign bottom with zero points.