[The Uganda Cranes as they lined up in Praia ]
By: Nacho Black Armo
The qualifying campaign for the 2019 Cameroon AFCON started in high gear across the continent, the big winners were South Africa, Uganda, Madagascar, and others who managed to bag 3 points. Uganda were further made proud as referees Alex Muhabi and team took charge of a thrilling encounter between Zimbabwe and Liberia in Harare
Mbwana Samatta inspired Tanzania to a point in a 1-1 draw with visitors Lesotho, Mbwana gave the Taifa stars the lead in the 28th minute but it took Thapelo Tale 7 minutes to respond for Lesotho. In the same group later on after Uganda Cranes had failed to make the trip on time to Cape Verde, the game was postponed to Sunday evening and it looked a balanced affair with a few a chances created by both the Cranes and the Blue Sharks. However in the 83rd minute substitute Geoffrey Sserunkuma gave the visitors the lead and the only goal produced in the game. Result puts Uganda Cranes at top of this table with just one game played.
In group F, neighbors Kenya opened up with a loss away to Sierra Leone, Julius Gabrilla gave the hosts the lead in the 22nd minute before Kenyan Brian Mandela got sent off in the 43rd minute. Umaru Bangura doubled the hosts’ lead with a penalty kick in 70ths minute but six minutes later Micheal Olunga got a consolation for the visitors.
South Africa, Mozambique and Guinea all bent against odds to pick up away wins. Guinea defeated 2015 Champions Ivory Coast 3-2, Seydou Doumbia gave the Elephants the lead in 15 minutes, Sadio Diallo levelled in the 32nd minute. Doumbia restored the lead in the 62nd minute but this all didn’t stop the fighting Guineans as they answered back and also went on to win the game 3-2 thanks to Francois Kamano and Naby Keita. South Africa defeated Nigeria 2-0 thanks to Tokelo Rantie, Percy Tau, to earn Stuart Baxter a perfect competitive debut.
Mozambique surprised 2012 Champions Zambia 1-0, thanks to Stanley Ratifo’s goal in Lusaka to earn them their 1st ever victory over Zambia in competitive football.
A 93rd minute goal from Salif Keita handed Central Africa Republic a 2-1 lead to break the resistant hearts of the Amavubi stars of Rwanda after they thought they had won a point when Ernest Sugila equalised in the 91st minute late in added time at the Stade Barthelemy Boganda in CAR.
DRC beat neighbors Congo Brazaville 3-1 at the Stade Des Martyrs with a brace from Villarreal forward Cedric Bakambou and a stunner from Chancel Mbemba, Thievy Bifouma had earlier equalised for Congo in the 1st half, Burkinafaso as well went on to win 3-1 over Angola.
Defending Champions Cameron, Burundi, Guinea Bissau, Mali all got positive results. Mauritania scored 10 minutes to stoppage to win 1-0 over Botswana away.
Cameroon went on to win 1-0 over Morocco goal coming in the 29th minute by Vicent Aboubakar.
Ghana’s Asamoah Gyan celebrated a milestone of reaching half a century of goals for the Black Stars with a strike in Ghana’s 5-0 win over Ethiopia the rest were scored by John Boye, Ebenezer Ofori and a brace from Raphael Dwamena
Gyan has become just the fifth African to score 50 or more goals for his national team, following in the footsteps of legends Godfrey Chitalu (Zambia), Hossam Hassan (Egypt), Didier Drogba (Ivory Coast) and Samuel Eto (Cameroon).
Zimbabwe 3-0 Liberia
Central Africa 2-1 Rwanda
Benin 1-0 Gambia
Ghana 5-0 Ethiopia
Algeria 1-0 Togo
Cape Verde 0-1 Uganda
Tunisia 1-0 Egypt
Niger 0-0 Swaziland
Libya 5-1 Seychelles
Sudan 1-3 Madagascar
Cameroon 1-0 Morocco
Guinea Bissau 1-0 Namibia
Burkina Faso 3-1 Angola