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2021 Afcon qualifiers: Mali, Tunisia qualify but Ghana, Nigeria must wait

Mali ensured their place at an eighth consecutive Nations Cup finals with narrow hard-fought 2-1 win over hosts Namibia.

All three goals of Tuesday’s Group A encounter came in the opening 40 minutes of the game as Mali had a penalty saved in the second-half and Namibia hitting the post.

Red Bull Salzburg’s Sekou Koita scored after just 12 minutes for Mali as he drove forward to the edge of the area before firing a powerful shot past keeper Virgil Vries in to the top corner.

Vries was at fault for the second goal as Moussa Doumbia cut into the area and fired in a shot from a tight angle that beat the keeper at his near post.

Two minutes later Namibia pulled a goal back as Elmo Kambindu rose at the far post to head home a free-kick from Absalom Limbondi.

Both teams battled to score again after the break and Mali should have added a third from the penalty spot but Vries went the right way and saved El Bilal Toure’s effort. The penalty had been awarded for a clumsy challenge on Doumbia by subsitute Riaan Hanamub.

The Namibian almost made amends late on with a fierce shot that had beaten the Mali keeper but not the post.

Mali’s win takes them to 10 points, two ahead of second-placed Guinea with Namibia on three and still with a mathematical chance of grabbing second place.

However Chad, despite earning their first point of the campaign in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Guinea, cannot now qualify for the finals.

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