An Edgar Salli thunderbolt gave Cameroon a 1-0 victory in Mauritania on Friday and a place at next year’s Africa Cup of Nations to be hosted by Gabon. The diminutive 23-year-old midfielder from Swiss club Saint Gallen AG struck on the half-hour mark at a packed 10,000-seat national stadium in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott.
Mauritania failed to clear a free-kick and Salli pounced on the loose ball just outside the penalty area, slamming it past diving goalkeeper Souleymane Diallo.
The home team, who began the match one point behind the visitors, pressed continuously for an equalizer after halftime, but hopes of drawing level were dealt a huge blow on 68 minutes when defender Moustapha Diaw was red-carded after clashing with striker Karl Toko.
Frustrated supporters in a predominantly pro-Mauritania crowd hurled missiles at the Cameroon bench in the closing stages and one struck Belgium-born coach Hugo Broos.
Victory lifted Cameroon to 11 points in Group M and an unassailable four-point advantage over Mauritania as each nation has only one fixture to play.
South Africa (three points) were to play away against Gambia (two points) yesterday with only pride at stake.
South Africa have been the surprise of the section — they are still seeking a first win and have scored only three goals in four games. Four-time African champions Cameroon are the third nation to qualify for the 16-team Cup of Nations after Morocco and Algeria.
Morocco secured a place in March by beating Cape Verde twice in four days, while Algeria booked their place on Thursday through a 2-0 win in the Seychelles.
Morocco dropped their first points and conceded a first goal in Group F when Libya snatched a stoppage-time goal to draw 1-1 in Tunis.
Nabil Dirar scored with a half-volley from a corner to give Morocco a first-half lead before Sanad Ouerfelli leveled by heading a free-kick past goalkeeper Munir Mohamedi.
Former champions Tunisia took a significant step toward qualifying by winning 3-0 away to Djibouti in Group A.
Naim Sliti and Hamdi Harbaoui scored during in opening half in the Horn of Africa state and Taha Yassine Khenissi added a third goal just before the hour mark. Leaders Tunisia have 10 points from five matches, one more than Liberia, who host third-placed Togo in Monrovia today. Whatever the result of the West African clash, Tunisia will win the section if they beat visiting Liberia in September.
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