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African quartet advance to WC playoffs

Algeria, Cameroon, Nigeria and Tunisia have advanced to the World Cup playoffs in Africa as Ivory Coast were the continent’s biggest qualifying casualty so far.

African champions Algeria and Nigeria scraped through to the 10-team playoffs in March after both were held to home draws but clinched the point they needed to progress on the final day of group stage action.

Tunisia were more convincing, beating Zambia 3-1 to take the top spot and the playoff place in Group B.

Cameroon ended Ivory Coast’s campaign with a 1-0 win in their much-hyped West African showdown.

Karl Toko Ekambi’s first-half goal settled the tense Group D decider in favour of the hosts as Ivory Coast lost the game and the lead of the group right at the end.

Ivory Coast, two-time African champions, will miss a second straight World Cup after also failing to make it to Russia in 2018.

Only the 10 group winners progressed to the playoffs and Algeria, Cameroon, Nigeria and Tunisia took the last four spots.

They joined Mali, Egypt, Ghana, Senegal, Morocco and Congo, who had already advanced, although there are two appeals brewing that may still have a say on who actually plays in the two-leg playoff ties to decide the final five African teams to go to the World Cup.

Benin said they will appeal against the 2-0 loss to Congo which denied them a play-off place because Congo made four substitutions using four separate stoppages in play – FIFA rules allow teams to make up to five substitutions but only during a total of three breaks in play.

South Africa said they are protesting to FIFA and the Confederation of African Football over “the conduct” of Senegalese referee Maguette N’Diaye in their 1-0 loss to Ghana.

On Tuesday, Algeria twice led – through goals from Riyad Mahrez and Sofiane Feghouli – but eventually drew 2-2 with Burkina Faso, who would have taken the top spot in Group A with a win.

Nigeria survived a scare in Group C from Cape Verde with a 1-1 result enough for the three-time African champions to keep their campaign alive.

Egypt, rounded off their group campaign with a 2-1 win over Gabon while Morocco’s 3-0 win over Guinea made them the only team to win all six of their group games.

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