EQUATORIAL Guinea and Zambia qualified for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals as World Cup semi-finalists Morocco lost in their first competitive game since their Qatar heroics.
Equatorial Guinea and Zambia took the list of teams confirmed for next January’s finals to nine with more expected on Sunday, when a further nine qualifiers take place across the continent.
Morocco qualified in March without playing but lost 2-1 to South Africa in Johannesburg to cede the leadership of Group K.
Since becoming the first African team to make the World Cup semi-finals, Morocco has played three friendlies, including beating Brazil, but a horror goalkeeping error saw them behind after only five minutes.
Goalkeeper Munir El Kajoui let a soft cross slip through his fingers to hand Percy Tau the opening goal. Zakhele Lepasa put South Africa 2-0 up early in the second half before Hakim Ziyech pulled one back on the hour mark.
Zambia, coached by former Chelsea manager Avram Grant, hammered Ivory Coast 3-0 to make sure they would take the sole qualifying place from Group H with the Ivorians already in the finals as hosts of January’s tournament.
Serge Aurier netted an own goal from some distance out to hand Zambia an early lead in Ndola and Patson Daka and Klings Kangwa added second-half goals for Zambia.
Equatorial Guinea needed only a draw at home to already qualified Tunisia but beat them 1-0 in Malabo to go two points clear at the top of Group J. Veteran Emilio Nsue tucked away an 85th-minute penalty to secure the victory.
The Central African Republic would have qualified for the first time had they won their home game against Angola but the 2-1 loss in Group E put the Angolans on course for a place in the finals.
Holders Senegal, already through to defend their title, lost their 100% record in Group L as Benin held them to a 1-1 draw in Cotonou.
Defender Abdoulaye Seck put Senegal ahead in the first half but teenager Abdoul Rachid Moumini equalised 12 minutes from time.
There were also wins for Botswana and the Comoros Islands on Saturday but both were out of contention to reach the finals.
The top two teams in each of the 12 groups qualify for the tournament in January.