By Mark Gleeson
DURBAN, South Africa (Reuters) – Africa’s top sides all booked places in next year’s decisive World Cup qualifying group phase after coming through their knockout ties on Tuesday.
Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Egypt, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tunisia, who have all played at previous World Cup finals tournaments, will be among 20 countries in the draw for the next round having won their two-legged ties.
Ghana and Nigeria both came through testing encounters against minnows while the north African trio of Algeria, Egypt and Tunisia enjoyed more comfortable results.
Ivory Coast’s Giovanni Sio scored twice as the African champions beat neighbours Liberia 3-0, for a 4-0 aggregate success, while Senegal overcame Madagascar 3-0 for a 5-2 aggregate triumph with goals from Cheikhou Kouyate, Moussa Konate and Mame Biram Diouf.
Cameroon were held to a goalless draw at home against Niger but a 3-0 win in Friday’s first leg laid the platform for their success. An own goal gave South Africa a 1-0 victory over Angola in Durban for a 4-1 aggregate triumph.
Nigeria beat a spirited Swaziland 2-0 in Port Harcourt with goals from Moses Simon and Efe Ambrose after a goalless draw in the first leg.
Ghana also won 2-0 on aggregate after a testing encounter against the tiny Comoros Islands in Kumasi. A free kick from Mubarak Wakaso and a late goal from Jordan Ayew ensured their progress.
Fullback Faouzi Ghoulam and striker Islam Slimani netted two each as Algeria hammered Tanzania 7-0 for a 9-2 aggregate triumph, while Egypt’s Ahmed Hassan scored twice in 4-0 win over Chad in Alexandria.
Tunisia beat Mauritania 2-1 at home to match the scoreline from the away leg at the weekend.
Burkina Faso also advanced on Tuesday, along with the Cape Verde Islands, Congo, Mali and Libya, who produced the only away victory of the day to eliminate Rwanda in Kigali.
Libya’s domestic league has been halted by civil strife and the national team is forced to host its home matches at neutral venues.
Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Uganda, Zambia and Morocco had already booked their places in the next round.
FIFA have yet to set a date for the draw where the 20 counties will be divided into five groups of four with the group winners qualifying for the 2018 tournament finals in Russia.
(Editing by Toby Davis)