September 5, 2017 / 10:58 PM / 9 months ago

Soccer - Cape Verde catapult into World Cup contention

DURBAN (Reuters) - Tiny Cape Verde Islands catapulted themselves into surprise World Cup contention with a 2-1 victory away to South Africa on Tuesday as the identity of the African qualifiers for next year’s finals remained far from resolved.

Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications – Africa - Egypt vs Uganda - Alexandria, Egypt - September 5, 2017 Egypt’s Ahmed Fathi in action with Uganda’s Joseph Ochaya REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Nigeria, who did not play on Tuesday, look best placed to become the first of the five African teams to book a place in Russia as they will qualify if they beat Zambia at home in their next game next month.

The Ivory Coast went down 2-1 at home in a shock loss to Gabon to let a comfortable lead slip to one point in Group C and open the door for second-placed Morocco.

Tunisia took command of Group A as they drew 2-2 away to second-placed Democratic Republic of Congo, while Egypt opened up a two-point lead with a 1-0 win over Uganda in Group E.

But it was the small island nation of Cape Verde who shook up the African qualifiers as they registered a second successive win over South Africa that suddenly sees a country of 500,000 inhabitants in with a chance of a fairytale trip to Russia.

Garry Rodrigues fired home two long-range wonder strikes in the second half to stun the South Africans in Durban and leave the 2010 World Cup hosts last in Group D.


Cape Verde upset South Africa 2-1 on Friday in Praia and repeated the feat to reach six points, level at the top with Burkina Faso who were down to 10 men for 50 minutes but still forced a late equaliser to draw 2-2 with Senegal in Ouagadougou.

An own goal by substitute Pape Seydou Ndiaye in the last minute salvaged a precious point for Burkina Faso after Sadio Mane had made it 2-1 to put Senegal on course for an away win.

Gabon, without striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who was unavailable, scored two early goals to beat the Ivory Coast in Bouake four days after they lost 3-0 at home to them.

The Ivorians remain top but Morocco, who got an away draw in a 0-0 stalemate with Mali in Bamako, have closed the gap.

Mohamed Salah netted a sixth minute goal for Egypt as they edged Uganda in Alexandria and went above their opponents in Group E by two points.

GHANA ROMP Ghana, who have been to the last three World Cups, finally won a game in the group as Thomas Partey bagged a hat-trick in the 5-1 thrashing of Congo in Brazzaville, but they stay four points adrift of Egypt.

Tunisia fought back from a two-goal deficit to claim a valuable draw and maintain a three-point lead over DR Congo.

The result meant the other two teams in Group A - Guinea and Libya - were eliminated from the reckoning.

Algeria, who reached the last 16 at the 2014 finals in Brazil, are also out of contention after Riyad Mahrez had a penalty saved in a 1-0 home defeat by Zambia in Constantine.

Only the group winners qualify for Russia. There are two more rounds to be played which come next month and in November.

Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications – Africa - Egypt vs Uganda - Alexandria, Egypt - September 5, 2017 Uganda’s Godfrey Walusimbi in action with Egypt’s Mohamed Salah REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Editing by Ken Ferris

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