Thursday, October 7 saw no less than eight matches played across the African continent in 2022 World Cup Qualifiers. Kenya was thoroughly beaten by Mali while Nigeria surprisingly lost to minnows Central African Republic.
2022 World Cup Qualifiers-Africa: Round up
Kenyans embarrassed as Nigerians humbled.
Mali 5-0 Kenya
Mali crushed Kenya 5-0 at the Agadir Stadium in Morocco on Thursday night to take control of Group E in Africa’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers, with Ibrahima Kone netting a hat-trick.
The result sees the Eagles reclaim top spot on the log with seven points, after Uganda had earlier moved into first place on five points thanks to their 1-0 win away to Rwanda. The Harambee Stars are third on two points, with the Amavubi bottom of the log on one point.
Mali got off to a flyer and were two goals up inside the opening quarter of the match. Ibrahima Kone was the key figure for the Eagles, setting up Adama N. Traore to fire an effort beyond Kenya goalkeeper Ian Otieno in just the eight minute.
Kone then got himself on the score sheet in the 22nd minute, capitalising on some awful defending from the visitors before beating Otieno with aplomb to put the West African side in total control.
In between the goals, Mali did suffer an injury blow which saw Mamadou Fofana replace Kiki Kouyate just 16 minutes into the match.
Kone continued his excellence and racked up a third goal for Mali on 36 minutes, turning home Falaye Sacko’s assist to establish a 3-0 advantage, before the Norwegian-based forward completed his hat-trick on the stroke of half-time, firing home from a penalty to see the Eagles four goals up at the interval.
Kenya, having made four changes by the hour mark – including replacing goalkeeper Otieno with Farouk Shikalo – managed to stem the tide and keep the score down to 4-0 for most of the second half, though their own attacking ambitions were limited to long-range efforts.
Lone striker Michael Olunga had to feed off scraps and Mali goalkeeper Ibrahim Mounkoro had only two comfortable saves to make through the whole 90 minutes, underlining the control enjoyed by the ‘hosts’, who have been forced to hold their home games away from Bamako on the order of CAF inspectors.
Mali added a fifth goal on 85 minutes, with Adama M. Traore setting up substitute Moussa Doumbia to score and complete a rout of the Harambee Stars.
The teams will meet in the reverse fixture at the Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi on Sunday 10 October.
The October block of fixtures got underway on Wednesday with Group I matches, as Morocco hammered Guinea-Bissau 5-0 in Rabat to jump to the top of the standings on six points, while Sudan and Guinea drew 1-1 in neutral Marrakesh.
Thursday’s afternoon matches then saw Benin and DR Congo rise to first and second respectively in Group J: the Squirrels defeated Tanzania 1-0 in Dar es Salaam thanks to a strike from Steve Mounie, while the Leopards claimed a first win by beating Madagascar 2-0, with goals from Chadrac Akolo and Dieumerci Mbokani.
The afternoon also saw Cape Verde claim second place on the Group C log with their 2-1 away win over Liberia in neutral Accra, with the Blue Sharks coming from behind thanks to an equaliser from Jameiro Monteiro and an injury-time winner from Garry Rodrigues.
It was expected that group leaders Nigeria would respond with a home win over the Central African Republic in Lagos, but instead the Wild Beasts claimed a shock 1-0 away victory.
Thanks to a late strike from Karl Namnganda to join Cape Verde on four points, while the Super Eagles remained on six. In fact, just three points covers all four teams in the group.
Tunisia continue to lead the way in Group B, retaining their 100 percent record with a 3-0 win over Mauritania in a night game in Rades, as Ellyes Skhiri, Wahbi Khazri and Seifeddine Jaziri netted for the Carthage Eagles.
Earlier in the day Equatorial Guinea claimed second place on the Group B log with a 2-0 home win over 10-man Zambia: Chipolopolo had Prince Mumba sent off, and Nzalang Nacional scored their goals through Saul Coco and Emilio Nsue.