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Chadi Riad celebrates a goal for Morocco against Congo-Brazzaville

Ayoub El Kaabi scored a hat-trick as Morocco thrashed Congo-Brazzaville 6-0 in African qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, while Cameroon and Ivory Coast were held to draws away from home.

Azzedine Ounahi, Crystal Palace-bound defender Chadi Riad and Soufiane Rahimi also got on the scoresheet for Morocco in the away match in Agadir.

Brentford striker Bryan Mbeumo gave Cameroon an early lead away against Angola, but Gelson Dala’s cross nine minutes after the break deflected off Indomitable Lions defender Michael Ngadeu and past goalkeeper Andre Onana.

Ivory Coast’s perfect start came to an end as the continental champions were held to a goalless draw away in Kenya, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang helping Gabon come from behind to defeat Gambia.

Comoros, Rwanda and Sudan each finished first in their group, while Cape Verde, South Africa and Tanzania also celebrated triumphs in the 13 matches played on Tuesday.

The nine group winners at the end of the ten-match campaign have all secured a place at the 2026 World Cup, while a tenth African team could qualify via an intercontinental play-off.

The African qualifiers for the finals in the USA, Mexico and Canada will resume in March 2025. The preliminary round matches for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations are scheduled for September, October and November.

Morocco are the only team with a 100 percent record after three games, despite having played one game fewer than the vast majority following Eritrea’s withdrawal on the eve of the opening matches in November.

Congo-Brazzaville The club face disciplinary action from FIFA after failing to play their home match against Niger last Thursday – allegedly because they refused to play in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo – and after Monday’s match was moved from Kinshasa, they did not even have the benefit of a neutral venue against Morocco.

The Atlas Lions prevailed against their “hosts” at will and took a 4-0 lead within 40 minutes before Olympiakos striker El Kaabi completed his hat-trick with a header in the 53rd minute.

The North Africans are three points ahead at the top of Group E Tanzania, who secured a 1-0 victory in Zambia thanks to Waziri Junior’s goal in the fifth minute.

Indomitable lions pass Angola test

Cameroon coach Marc Brys (left) in conversation with an assistant coachCameroon coach Marc Brys (left) in conversation with an assistant coach

Marc Brys (left) has made an unbeaten start as coach of five-time continental champions Cameroon (Getty Images)

Cameroon is one point ahead at the top of Group D after an entertaining 1-1 draw against Angola in Luanda.

The Indomitable Lions took four points from their first two games under new coach Marc Brys, whose appointment as head coach was initially contested by the country’s football association.

Cape Verde one point behind the Central Africans after Edilson Borges scored to give the Blue Sharks a 1-0 home win Libya, which also have seven points.

Angola remains unbeaten with six points, while Mauritius have four points and got their first win by beating Swaziland 2:1 at home.

In Group B South Sudan welcomed northern neighbors Sudan to their new stadium in Juba, ending their long exile.

Even before kick-off, there were emotional scenes as the home crowd sang the Sudanese national anthem to show their support for a country in the midst of civil war.

Walieldin Khidir, Yasir Mozamil and Mohamed Abdelrahman scored the goals that gave the visitors a 3-0 victory. Sudan have now recorded three wins and a draw from their first four qualifying matches, despite a conflict that began in April last year and led to the suspension of the domestic league.

Sudan returned to the top of Group B, two points ahead of Senegal and three ahead of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Kenya stops elephant attack

Evan Ndicka in action for the Ivory CoastEvan Ndicka in action for the Ivory Coast
Roma centre-back Evan Ndicka made a decisive goal-line clearance for Ivory Coast (Getty Images)

Ivory Coast had won their first three qualifying matches by an aggregate score of 12:0, but were lucky to get a point from the match against Kenya in neutral Lilongwe.

Elephants goalkeeper Yahia Fofana saved a shot from Kenyan striker Timothy Ouma late in the second half and Evan Ndicka then cleared a follow-up shot from Michael Olunga off the line.

Oumar Diakite still had time to hit the Kenyan crossbar after a back pass from Simon Adingra, but despite the restrained performance of the reigning continental champions, the West Africans remain top of Group F with 10 points.

Gabon are now one point behind the Ivorians after recovering a 0-1 deficit and Gambia at home.

Yankuba Minteh’s header gave the Scorpions the lead at half-time, but the start of the second half was delayed by a power outage in Franceville.

However, the long break had no effect on Gabon: Jim Allevinah quickly equalised, Marseille striker Aubameyang put the hosts in the lead and Denis Bouanga increased the lead to 3-1.

Ebou Adams reduced the deficit with 14 minutes to go, but the Panthers held on and inflicted the first defeat on new Gambia coach Johnny McKinstry.

In the meantime, Burundi are two points behind after the 3-1 away win against Seychelles in neutral Morocco.

Rwanda and Comoros reach the summit

Group C remains completely open after Rwanda And South Africa recorded victories and moved level with Benin, where Wasps had seven points; they had the best goal difference.

Jojea Kwizera scored just before half-time and gave Rwanda the victory over the underdog Lesotho, who were at the top even after three rounds.

South Africa’s game against Zimbabwe in Bloemfontein started briskly and was already 1:1 after two minutes, after Tawanda Chirewa had equalised the lead goal by Iqraam Rayners for the hosts.

Thapelo Morena came off the bench at half-time to score two goals and give Bafana Bafana a 3-1 win.

Goals from Myziane Maolida and El Fardou Ben Nabouhane gave Comoros a 2-0 away win against Chad in Morocco and took the Coelacanths to the top of Group I, ahead of Ghana on goal difference.

In the meantime, Mali’s The weakening season continued with a 0-0 draw against 10-man Madagascar in neutral Johannesburg.

The Eagles, who had never qualified for a World Cup finals, had a numerical advantage after Louis Demoleon was sent off in the 16th minute for a back-heel against El Bilal Touré, but could not break the deadlock.

The West Africans have five points, four behind the Comoros and Ghana and two behind Madagascar.

Results of the African World Cup qualification on Tuesday

  • South Sudan 0-3 Sudan (Group B)

  • Lesotho 0-1 Rwanda (Group C)

  • South Africa 3-1 Zimbabwe (Group C)

  • Angola 1-1 Cameroon (Group D)

  • Cape Verde 1:0 Libya (Group D)

  • Congo 0-6 Morocco (Group E)

  • Zambia 0-1 Tanzania (Group E)

  • Gabon 3-2 Gambia (Group F)

  • Kenya 0:0 Ivory Coast (Group F)

  • Seychelles 1-3 Burundi (Group F)

  • Mauritius 2:1 Eswatini (Group G)

  • Chad 0-2 Comoros (Group I)

  • Madagascar 0:0 Mali (Group I)

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