Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire picked wins on Monday against Djibouti and Malawi respectively as they went top of their groups in the race to earn a ticket to the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Burkina Faso beat Djibouti 2-0 in Marrakech to move top of Group A with 10 points, pending Algeria’s match against Niger on Tuesday while Côte d’Ivoire were 2-1 winners over Malawi to regain the lead in Group D with 10 points, one ahead of Cameroon who had earlier beaten Mozambique 1-0.
Midfielder Franck Kessie scored the winner for Les Elephants off the penalty spot in the 66th minute after Khuda Muyaba had cancelled out Nicolas Pepe’s early goal for the West Africans.
Côte d’Ivoire had a perfect start in the match with Pepe hitting the back of the net in the second minute after a blunder from Malawian defender Peter Cholopi who miscontrolled the ball and allowed the Arsenal man space and time to beat the keeper one on one.
But, Malawi were relentless as they showed some fight to get back into the game. They did so in the 20th minute when Muyaba struck low into the bottom left corner after Chikoti Chirwa had won the ball off Serge Aurier with a superb tackle.
Malawi were pressing Côte d’Ivoire since the equalizer and Aurier almost gave them a second goal when he tapped the ball against his keeper. He however made amends with a brilliant goalline block after Chester Yamikani had taken a shot at goal.
In the second half, Côte d’Ivoire came back with an improved mentality and they were rewarded for the chase with the second goal when Kessie scored from the spot after Gervinho had been brought down inside the box by Denis Chembezi.
The defender almost made amends on the other end in the 85th minute but his point blank header unmarked at the backpost was saved by the keeper.
Burkina Faso 2-0 Djibouti
Captain Issoufou Dayo and Abdoul Tapsoba were on target as Les Stallions kept their World Cup dream alive with the third victory in four matches. Meanwhile, Djibouti’s dream ended as they remained winless in the group with no point after four matches.
The Eastern Africans had to finish the game with 10 men after Aptidon Daher was sent off in the 67th minute for an off the ball challenge on Tapsoba.
Burkina Faso broke the deadlock on the half hour mark through Dayo. The RS Berkane defender sent in a looping header beyond the keeper off Zakaria Sanogo’s cross.
The Burkinabes who had won the first leg 4-0 were dominant since the start with Sanogo and Mohamed Konate seeing their shots saved by the keeper.
They had to wait till the 63rd minute to score the second, Tapsoba hitting the back of the net with the second bite of the cherry after his first effort was saved by the keeper. The striker almost scored a sizzling double in the 73rd minute but his overhead kick went inches over the bar.