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With Mahrez missing, Algeria loses in World Cup qualifying

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Algeria may regret the decision to allow Riyad Mahrez to leave the team camp to sort out his club future.

[ MORE: UEFA qualifying wrap — Spain tops Italy; Woodburn scores in debut ]

Without its best player, Algeria lost 3-1 in Zambia in World Cup qualifying on Saturday to stay last in its group.

The defeat to a Zambia team that played most of the second half with 10 men leaves Algeria – Africa’s top-ranked team a few years ago – with little hope of making it to Russia next year.

The North Africans are one of three teams that represented Africa at the last World Cup which are highly unlikely to repeat in 2018. African champion Cameroon and Ghana are also way off the pace in their groups.

Ivory Coast is on track, a 3-0 win Saturday confirmed that, while Sadio Mane‘s Senegal is hanging in there.

A roundup of World Cup qualifying games in Africa on Saturday:

GROUP B

Mahrez was given permission by Algerian officials to travel back to Europe in the hope of securing a move away from Leicester in time for the transfer deadline. A transfer didn’t happen for Mahrez and, with the winger unable to get to Zambia in time, Saturday’s qualifier didn’t go to plan for Algeria.

Zambia striker Brian Mwila hit the woodwork in the opening minutes, headed in Zambia’s first in the sixth minute, and made it 2-0 in the 32nd. Yacine Brahimi’s long-range shot put Algeria back in the game early in the second half.

But even after Zambia’s Fashion Sakala was sent off for a second yellow card in the 56th, Algeria couldn’t score again despite a man advantage for over 30 minutes. Substitute Enock Mwepu netted Zambia’s third with two minutes left.

Algeria is eight points behind runaway group leader Nigeria with three games remaining in qualifying. Only the five group winners qualify for the World Cup.

GROUP C

Marc Wilmots led Ivory Coast to a 3-0 win in Gabon in his first competitive match in charge.

Wilmots was brought in as coach after Ivory Coast, the defending champion, crashed out of the African Cup of Nations in Gabon in the first round at the beginning of the year. The Ivorians eased some of those bad memories on their return to the country, with second-half goals from Max Gradel and two from Seydou Doumbia taking Ivory Coast back to the top of Group C ahead of Morocco.

GROUP D

Senegal and Burkina Faso defenses didn’t give an inch in their 0-0 draw, leaving little space for Mane to operate in.

There were few chances in Dakar. Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly was sent off for Senegal near the end after his second yellow card.

Burkina Faso still leads Group D and holds the qualifying place but just one point separates the top three teams.

Associated Press writer Andrew Jackson Oryada in Kampala, Uganda contributed to this report.

More AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

England, Zambia, Uruguay all advance to U20 World Cup quarterfinals

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Ademola Lookman produced flashes of brilliance for Everton this season, and the England Under-20 attacker put on a show in South Korea on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Latest U-20 World Cup news ]

Lookman scored a pair of goals, including one where he made a shifty move to avoid two defenders before finishing through the goalkeepers legs as England held on for a 2-1 win over Costa Rica in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup Round of 16. With the win, England advances to the quarterfinals where it will face either Mexico or Senegal on June 5.

Elsewhere, Zambia stunned the world with a 4-3 win over Germany after extra time as Shemmy Mayembe’s goal proved to be the difference. It was a back and forth game as Germany took a 1-0 lead with Philipp Ochs’ brilliant free kick before Zambia scored three-straight goals, including one that zoomed right past the body of German goalkeeper Svend Brodersen.

But the Germans battled back, scoring in the 89th and 94th minutes to force extra time, where they ultimately conceded in the second half.

Earlier in the day, Uruguay advanced to the U-20 World Cup quarterfinals by way of a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia. Uruguay captain Nicolas De La Cruz scored the game’s only goal from the penalty spot.

Here’s highlights from Wednesday’s U-20 World Cup action:

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Africa Cup of Nations roundup: Tunisia, DR Congo draw in group finale, advance to QF

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Another day, another pair of spots in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) quarterfinals were booked as Group B teams played their third and final group stage games. The knockout rounds kick of this Saturday, Jan. 31.

DR Congo 1-1 DR Tunisia

Tunisia’s Ahmed Akaichi and DR Congo’s Jeremy Bokila scored either side of halftime to draw 1-1, which was just enough for DR Congo (3 points), who finished second, to edge out Cape Verde (3) based on the second tiebreaker, goals scored.

A draw was all Tunisia (5) needed in order to win the group. DR Congo will face Group A winners Congo in the quarterfinals, while Tunisia will face Group A runners-up Equatorial Guinea.

Cape Verde 0-0 Zambia

Played in a torrential downpour, and at one point nearly stopped due to the inclement weather, Cape Verde and Zambia both struggled to create high-quality scoring chances as either side would have advanced to the quarterfinals with a single goal.

“I’m very sad and disappointed with the result but not with my players,” said Cape Verde head coach Rui Aguas following the game. “They did all they could. We missed a lot of chances in three games but we gave 100 per cent, we gave our all.”

Zambia boss Honour Janza was equally upbeat following his side’s elimination: “It is sad but let us be positive that the future looks bright for our team, the young boys we came with here will be a force in African football in the next two to three years.”

Tuesday’s AFCON schedule

Senegal vs. Algeria
South Africa vs. Ghana

WATCH: Emmanuel Mayuka’s exuberant, gymnastic AFCON goal celebration

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So, you’ve scored a goal for your country in your continent’s biggest tournament. What do you do now?

In the case of Southampton and Zambia star Emmanuel Mayuka at Thursday’s Africa Cup of Nations match against Tunisia, you do four backflips and a choreographed dance routine with your teammates.

[ MORE: AFCON Thursday roundup ]

Mayuka made the most of a Tunisian defensive lapse by lashing a loose ball into the upper 90. Sadly for Mayuka, Tunisia came back to capture a 2-1 win. And unfortunately for Mayuka, he later left the game with a celebration-related? injury.

Fortunately for us, we get another example of what makes AFCON so fun: an absurdly-long celebration befitting an Olympic floor dance routine.

Africa Cup of Nations roundup: Tunisia comes back for win; Mayuka, Mulumbu injured

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It wasn’t a banner day for hot soccer action at the Africa Cup of Nations, but that didn’t stop Group B’s favorite from collecting its points and settling into the driver’s seat.

Zambia 1-2 Tunisia

Southampton’s Emmanuel Mayuka gave Zambia a surprise 1-0 lead after 59 minutes, but the Eagles of Carthage responded like favorites. Mayuka, however, would later be carried off on a stretcher after an injury. No updates have been provided.

[ USMNT: Alex Bono profile ]

Despite being out shot 18-7 for the match, Tunisia found a pair of goals in the final 20 minutes to seize the day. First Ahmed Akaichi finished an Mohamed Ali Manser corner in the 70th minute, followed by captain Yasine Chikhaoui’s (FC Zurich) headed winner in the 89th.

Tunisia needs just a point against DR Congo to advance to the knockout round.

Cape Verde 0-0 DR Congo

If you’re paying attention to this tournament for the Premier Leaguers, the Democratic Republic of Congo team did not provide highlights. Yannick Bolasie (Crystal Palace) played just over an hour, and wasn’t effective. Worse, West Bromwich Albion’s Youssouf Mulumbu was stretchered off after just 20 minutes.

A goal didn’t end up coming, which is far worse for DR Congo. They have a much heavier lift in the group finale against Tunisia, while Cape Verde faces Zambia.

Friday’s matches

Ghana vs. Algeria

South Africa vs. Senegal