Group E was perhaps the most intriguing of today’s matchups in Africa World Cup qualifying. It was already a busy day on the continent, what with Ethiopia having to stage a comeback to eliminate South Africa’s chances, and Nigeria easily dispensing with ten-man Malawi.
Going into Saturday’s matches, the teams were snuggled nice and close. Sure, Niger was already out of the running. And Gabon would’ve had to pull off a pretty spectacular win over Burkina Faso to overtake Congo at the top. But the point was that it could happen. That’s what these runs to the World Cup are about, right? Hope.
And for once, hope did not disappoint. Burkina Faso, sitting one point back from Congo, needed a victory combined with Niger drawing or beating Congo. Niger, with nothing to play for, still gave it their all. The Ménas took the lead after just 34 minutes and, although Niger came back twice to even the scoreline, managed to hang on for the 2-2 draw.
With that result, Burkina Faso still needed a win — and Gabon didn’t make it very easy on them. But the Stallions scored shortly after the second half started, via a goal from Prejuce Nakoulma. Turned out that one goal was all they needed to record the 1-0 win, put 12 points on the board next to Congo’s 11, and progress through to the next round.
Keep tuning in to CAF qualifying. Later tonight, Tunisia and Cape Verde, separated by two points, meet to determine the winner of Group B. Then Senegal and Uganda face off to see who goes through from Group J.