Sudan beat South Africa 2-0 at the Al-Hilal Stadium in Omdurman on Sunday to secure its first AFCON qualification since 2012. Sudan last reached the quarter-finals of the Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Heading into the final round of Group C matches, Sudan needed a win at home at all costs. Meanwhile, Bafana Bafana needed just a draw to progress as they went into the game in second place ahead of the Sudanese.
However, it was the home side which met their end of the bargain, bagging three points to finish second with 12 points. Sudan was one point behind Ghana who finished top with 13 points after a 3-1 win over Sao Tome and Principe. The Black Stars were followed by Sudan (12), South Africa (10), and Sao Tome (0).
Two first-half goals dumped Bafana Bafana
First-half goals from Saifeldin Maki and Mohamed Abdel Rahman saw Herbert Velud’s men clinch victory on home soil. The Sudanese broke the deadlock in the fifth minute when Saifeldin bounced in a header inside the box off a freekick from the left.
On the other end after conceding, South Africa immediately put in the work to try and get back into the game. This is because just a point would have been enough to see them qualify. They had a chance in the 8th minute but defender Samawal Merghani made a decisive block at point-blank to deny Percy Tau.
South Africa was stabbed right where it hurts as Sudan doubled its tally. This was just when Bafana thought an equalizer was closer. As hard as the Bafana tried, they could not find the equalizer. The result means that the 1996 Champions will miss the Cameroon 2021.
South Africa has gradually faded as a Cup of Nations force after hosting and winning the competition in 1996. They also finished second and third in the following two editions.
Ghana beat Sao Tome & Principe
Elsewhere, goals from Nicholas Opoku, Jordan Ayew (penalty), and Baba Rahman were enough for Ghana to beat Sao Tome. The visitors’ scored a consolation through Iniesta in the 83rd minute after the Ghanaian goal served him an ‘Easter gift’.
Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey also started for the Black Stars, whose last of four Cup of Nations titles came 39 years ago. Meanwhile, Sao Tome was the only team among the 48 in the group phase to lose all six matches.
Malawi beat Uganda to qualify for Total AFCON for the first time since 2010
Meanwhile,Malawi sealed the second remaining spot from Group B, beating Uganda by a solitary goal at the Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre on Monday. This result helped Malawi to qualify for their first Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) since 2010.
Richard Mbulu scored the game’s only goal in the first half. This helped Malawi to complete a turnaround to finish second in the group with nine points and seal their place in Cameroon.
Conversely, the East Africans will rue their missed chances especially with their performance in the last three games. They lost to South Sudan in Nairobi and drew with Burkina Faso at home last week. As a result, their loss in Blantyre on Monday sealed their exit out of the plane to Cameroon.
The rest of the matches continue today and tomorrow. On Tuesday, March 30, Cote d’Ivoire will face Ethiopia, whilst Nigeria takes on Lesotho. Host Cameroon will also face Rwanda in the last Group F game on Tuesday. Nevertheless, all these former champions have booked their tickets for the tournament next year.