African Nations Championship: Nigeria, Algeria battle for survival

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DR Congo have won the African Nations Championship twice in 2009 and 2016

Nigeria and Algeria are among the sides who will need to overturn first leg deficits in order to qualify for the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) finals in Kenya.

Benin won the first leg 1-0 in Cotonou thanks to a late penalty by captain Seibou Mama.

The Libyans quickly levelled and won the match through an early second-half goal from Muaid Ellafi, a consistent scorer this year in the African Champions League.

Libya failed to reach the last CHAN finals in Rwanda but were shock winners of the 2014 tournament after edging Ghana in a penalty shootout.

Nigeria, coached by Salisu Yusuf, are hoping to avoid a shock like the one they suffered in qualifying for the finals of the 2011 tournament for locally-based players when they lost to Niger 2-0 on aggregate.

“We have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” said Benin coach Oumar Tchomogo.

“That said, I was disappointed we did not win the first leg more convincingly.”

Twice runners-up Ghana should reach the finals for the fourth time in five attempts by overcoming Burkina Faso in Kumasi.

Ghana led twice in the first leg only for Iliase Sawadogo to snatch a 2-2 draw five minutes from time.

Ivory Coast trail Niger 2-1 ahead of the second leg on an artificial pitch at Stade Robert Champroux in Abidjan.

Halidou Garba gave the Nigeriens victory late in the first match as they hunt another prized scalp having previously dumped Nigeria.

Defending champions Democratic Republic of Congo host neighbours Congo Brazzaville in Kinshasa after a goalless draw last weekend.

DR Congo have several survivors from the team that outplayed Mali 3-0 in the 2016 final, including goalkeeper Ley Matampi and striker Meschak Elia.

Having surrendered a two-goal lead to be held 2-2 in East London, a severely depleted South Africa have a tough task ahead against Zambia in Ndola.

South Africa’s Premier Soccer League kicks off this weekend and most clubs have refused to release players, saying the qualifiers are not being staged within a Fifa international window.

Egypt are another team in a difficult situation away to Morocco having drawn the first leg 1-1 without any stars from unco-operative leading clubs Al Ahly and Zamalek.

Despite CHAN matches only featuring locally-based footballers the games have full international status and count toward the monthly Fifa rankings.


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