JOHANNESBURG - Botswana qualified for
the African Nations Cup finals for the first time with a 1-0
away win in Chad on Saturday ensuring them a place in next
year's 16-team tournament.
The Southern African nation, with a population of just over
two million, made sure of one of the two berths from Group K as
they kept up their unbeaten run in the qualifiers.
They are the first side to emerge from the preliminaries,
which only reached the halfway stage this weekend and join
co-hosts Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in the 2012 field.
Striker Jerome Ramatlhakwane, who has not played club
football for more than a year, kept up his goal-scoring run in
the qualifiers with a second-half winner. It was his fifth goal
in six games.
But while Botswana emerge onto the continent's top stage,
defending champions Egypt and former winners Cameroon face the
stark reality of missing out.
Both lost away on Saturday to injury-time goals with Egypt
beaten by the last kick of the match against South Africa in
Johannesburg and Cameroon going down to Senegal.
Katlego Mphela scored three minutes into additional time to
give South African a fortunate 1-0 home win after Egypt had
proved stronger and created the better chances.
But the north Africans, who have won the last three Nations
Cup titles, remain winless and bottom of Group G, six points
behind the South Africans.
Demba Ba's injury-time goal for Senegal in Dakar made it
three wins out of three as the 2002 World Cup quarter-finalists
continued their dramatic revival of the last nine months.
Cameroon, whose captain Samuel Eto'o was winning his 100th
cap, are five points behind the pace in Group E.
Late goals also ensured 2-1 victories for Kenya over Angola
and Tanzania against the Central African Republic.
East African success was complete when David Obua won the
game for Uganda away in Guinea Bissau with the only goal of the
Group J encounter.
Both Burkina Faso and the Cape Verde Islands strengthened
their chances with handsome home wins. Burkina Faso trounced
Namibia 4-0 while the Cape Verdians beat Liberia 4-2.
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