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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
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Senegal, South Africa qualify

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Defending champion Senegal and South Africa became the latest teams to qualify for the African Cup of Nations on Tuesday.

Senegal registered a fourth win in four games in Group L after forward Boulaye Dia’s 18th-minute goal secured a 1-0 victory over Mozambique, giving the Senegalese a chance to defend their title next year in Ivory Coast.

South Africa’s chances hung by a thread after it blew a 2-0 lead at home against Liberia to draw 2-2 last week, but Bafana Bafana won Tuesday’s return game 2-1 in Monrovia. Midfielder Mihlali Mayambela sent South Africa to the African Cup in just his fourth appearance for his country when his goal early in the second half broke a 1-1 deadlock.

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Morocco had already qualified from Group K, with South Africa clinching the other place in the group.

Algeria has also already qualified for the 24-team African Cup, which was supposed to be played in June and July this year but was postponed to January-February 2024 by the Confederation of African Football because of fears that Ivory Coast’s midyear rainy season would spoil the tournament.

The African Cup returning to its January-February slot is likely to cause more friction with top European clubs, who will again lose their best African players midway through their seasons.

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The last African Cup in Cameroon in 2022 was also meant to be played in June-July to avoid a clash with the European season but was also moved to the start of the year because of Cameroon’s monsoon rains.

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