Cup Holders, Algeria, Join Senegal as Early Qualified Teams

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*Aubameyang and Gabon teammates slept on airport floor in Gambia

The two finalists of the 2019 edition, Senegal and Algeria have become the earliest qualifiers for the next editions of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Despite Algeria, on Monday, committing half of the last Friday’s blunders of the Super Eagles, they still qualify for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations.

While Nigeria gave away four goal lead in home match with Sierra Leone, Algeria gave away a two goal lead to draw 2-2 away at Zimbabwe.

After goals in the 34th and 38th minutes, including a fine solo effort from Riyad Mahrez, it looked like Algeria would make it four wins from four.

In the 34th Reda Halaimia whipped in a long cross from the right and an unmarked Andy Delort had a straightforward header to score his first goal for Algeria.

Moments later came the brilliance from Manchester City’s Mahrez as he flicked the ball past one defender and then cut into the area before twisting and turning to wrong-foot two defenders and firing home.

The Warriors pulled a goal back two minutes before half-time as striker Knowledge Musona curled in a free kick from the edge of the area to beat Rais M’Bolhi.

That seemed to galvanize Zimbabwe and they created the better chances after the break and were rewarded when Tanzania-based Prince Dube scored the equaliser in the 82nd minute seconds after coming on as a replacement.

Meanwhile, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and his Gabon team mates were forced to spend the night sleeping on the airport floor ahead of their vital Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Gambia.

Aubameyang used social media to highlight their plight after arriving at Banjul airport on Sunday, ahead of Monday’s Group D clash in the Gambian capital.

The Gabon delegation were told they were not allowed to leave the airport because of an administrative problem and were forced to sleep on the floor before being allowed to leave in the morning after government intervention.

No reason was given for not allowing the team to exit the airport and head to their hotel after arrival and even by previous standards of gamesmanship in African football, this was unusual.

Gabon’s federation posted pictures of the incident of its Facebook page but without any comment.

“Nice job CAF, it’s as if we were back in the 1990s,” Aubameyang posted on Twitter in a reference to previous foibles blamed on the Confederation of African Football.

“This will not demotivate us but people need to know and CAF need to take responsibility. (It is) 2020 and we want Africa to grow but this is not how we will get there,” the Arsenal striker added later.

Gabon are top of the group standings, three points ahead of Gambia, who are seeking to reach the Nations Cup finals for the first time. The top two teams in the group – which also includes Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo- advance to the finals in Cameroon in early 2022.