Island nation Comoros’ dream of a first ever place at the Total Africa Cup of Nations gained momentum on Sunday after they beat Kenya’s Harambee Stars 2-1 in Moroni to move to the apex of Group G in round four of the qualification matches for the 2022 showpiece in Cameroon.
The victory took Les Coelacantes to eight points and top of the group, with a three point buffer over second placed Egypt with two rounds of matches left.
Kenya remained third with three points and are now left with a mountain to climb if they are to make it to a second consecutive Cup of Nations.
Faiz Mattoir scored the winner for Comoros four minutes into the second half after Cliff Nyakeya had cancelled out El Fardou Ben’s opener.
Comoros was 1-0 up after 23 minutes when an unmarked El Fardou bounced a header past a helpless Arnold Origi after a cross from the left picked his run.
Kenya were stunned and worked their way back into the game with Nyakeya striking them level after 36 minutes with a low shot inside the box.
Seeing that his side’s attacking play wasn’t up to par, Kenya coach Jacob Mulee made a change, Lawrence Juma coming off for Kenneth Muguna.
But their hopes of winning away from home were dashed four minutes after the restart when Mattoir scored the second goal for the home side after striding into the box from a pass on the right.
Kenya tried to pile in the pressure for a goal, but all their efforts came to nothing. John Avire, Boniface Muchiri, Eric Johannah and Abdallah Hassan were all brought in to strengthen the attack, but nothing was forthcoming for the Kenyans.
Burundi 3-1 Mauritania
Saidi Ntibazokinza was Burundi’s shining light as the striker scored twice in The Swallows 3-1 win over Mauritania in Bujumbura, their first victory in Group E.
The striker who scored Burundi’s late equalizer in the first leg 1-1 draw in Nouakchott on Wednesday struck twice for the home side as they raised their tally to 4 points to move to third in the group, just a point behind second placed Mauritania.
Youssouf Ndayishimiye scored Burundi’s other goal while Mauritania’s single strike was scored by Niass Amadou.
Burundi got into the lead in the sixth minute when Ntibazokinza got to the end of a beautiful team move, side footing the ball home after a cutback from Marco Weymans on the left following a one-two change of passes with Saido Berahino.
But the visitors drew level in the 26th minute when Amadou tapped home from close range after Cheikh Moulaye headed the ball into the six yard area from a long pass in midfield.
The two sides went to the break tied at 1-1, but Burundi wound up the game within the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Ndayishimiye gave them the lead just a minute after the restart with a powerful diving header off a well delivered Gael Bigirimana freekick from the left.
In the 55th minute, they were 3-1 up when Ntibazokinza completed his brace with a well delivered freekick that landed in the bottom left of goal.
Burundi were comfortable and pushed on by the home fans looked all set to confirm the victory. They however survived a moment of nerves in defense when a header from Jimmy Ndaizeye was missed by the keeper after miscommunication. Lucky for them, Idrissa Thiam placed the shot wide.
On the counter, Burundi should have stretched their lead further in the 74th minute when Berahino released Steve Nzigamasabo on the right, but the midfielder’s low drive was saved by the keeper.
On the other end, Burundian shot stopper Onesime Rukundo pulled off a good save, stretching fully to his left to keep away a curling effort from Tanjy Hemeya.