Tanzania ended their 39-year wait for an Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) appearance as former Super Eagles winger Emmanuel Amunike guided the Taifa Stars to automatic qualification for Egypt 2019 courtesy a 3-0 home win against Uganda.
The erstwhile Golden Eaglets manager took charge of the East African side in August and was tasked with the responsibility of developing football in the country with little expectation of making it to AFCON 2019 as Uganda and Cape Verde were rated as Group L favourites.
However, the Nigerian did the unthinkable as he inspired the team to qualify for their first AFCON since 1980. Coincidentally, the last time the Taifa stars played at the Africa Cup of Nations was in Nigeria.
Tanzania went into the final group match against Uganda, knowing that a win against Cranes will take them through to the 2019 AFCON while hoping Lesotho fails to win away to Cape Verde.
Simon Msuwa gave Tanzania a first half lead against Uganda and six minutes into the second half, Erasto Nyoni scored a penalty to make it 2-0 before Aggrey Morris completed the rout. The victory was made even sweeter as news filtered in that the Lesotho versus Cape Verde match had ended goalless.
Uganda had never conceded any goals in the group before the game against Tanzania and it was refreshing for fans that Amunike led the Taifa Stars to a comprehensive victory in a derby game which earned them an AFCON ticket.
Uganda finished on top of Group L with 13points, Tanzania came in second with eighth points, Lesotho sit third with six points and Cape Verde is bottom with five points.
Amunike was a national hero instantly in Tanzania and the 55million popular sang in one voice with the Nigerian as they look forward to the April 12 draw for the AFCON to be hosted by Egypt.
It was drama in Group K as they concluded match in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier – Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique and Guinea Bissau produced a tension soaked moment for fans with edge of the seat action.
Namibia went away to Zambia needing to avoid defeat to qualify for Egypt 2019 while Mozambique could secure their place at the tournament with an away win, so it was poised.
Zambia were already out of the qualifying process after a poor start to the campaign but had pride to play for especially in front of their fans. Both matches were played simultaneously and it had all the trappings of great games.
Interestingly, Zambia and Guinea Bissau opened scoring in the 13th minute. Augustine Mulenga put Zambia in front against Nambia while Piqueti gave Guinea Bissau the lead against Mozambique. And it got weirder as it was the only goals scored in the first half in both matches.
The Chipolopolo got a second goal through Donashano Malama but there was drama minutes later when Peter Shalulile thought he had reduced the deficit for Nambia but his effort was ruled out for offside by the referee Bernard Camille from Seychelles but replays showed that it was a wrong call.
A Zambia player was lying down injured close to the corner flag which makes the Namibian player onside but after a little protest by both set of players and technical bench, the game continued and Zambia netted a third through Augustine Mulenga – it was his second for the night.
At the other center, Mozambique came from behind to lead 2-1 which meant they topped the group and Guinea Bissau fall to second, as the game was less than a minute but another twist happened.
Peter Shalulile scored for Nambia to make it 3-1 against Zambia but the home team ensured for an emphatic win as Lazarous Kambole wrapped it up with a fourth goal. At the final whistle, the Namibian players were in tears and covered their faces grass but the unthinkable happen.
Guinea Bissau scored at the death to draw 2-2 against Mozambique and return to top of Group k while their opponent dropped to third and Namibia shoot to second and earned a place alongside Guinesa Bissau at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
When the news got to the Namibian players, they went ballistic and wild – suddenly the feelings of losing 4-1 was thrown out of the window as they celebrated wildly with their fans and danced without care – it was pure ecstasy and that is why we all love football.
South Africa rise to the challenge as they denied Libya passage to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with a brave 2-1 away win in Tunisia to finish second behind Nigeria in Group E.