World Cup qualifier: Lesotho go top after Nigeria, South Africa draw

World Cup qualifier: Lesotho go top after Nigeria, South Africa draw

Football lightweights Lesotho stole the World Cup qualifying show in Africa on Friday, topping the table in a group including powerhouses South Africa and Nigeria.

Lesotho, ranked 149th in the world, upset Zimbabwe 2-0 in Soweto to lead Group C, and remained there after Nigeria and South Africa drew 1-1 in Uyo six hours later.

In other groups, shock 2022 World Cup semi-finalists Morocco defeated Zambia 2-1 in Agadir and African champions the Ivory Coast edged Gabon 1-0 in Korhogo.

The victories kept Morocco and the Ivory Coast top of their mini-leagues with 100 per cent records after matchday three.

Rethabile Rasethuntsa and Jane Thaba-Ntso scored in a 10-minute spell during the first half to give Lesotho their first group win after draws with Nigeria and Benin last November.

After Themba Zwane struck the woodwork from a free-kick, he put South Africa ahead on 29 minutes in Nigeria with a superb solo goal.

Nigeria levelled in the first minute of the second half when Fisayo Dele-Bashiru held off Mothobi Mvala and fired a low shot past goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.

The match was a repeat of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations semi-final in the Ivory Coast, which also ended 1-1 before Nigeria won on penalties.

Lesotho have five points, Rwanda, Benin and South Africa four each, Nigeria three and Zimbabwe two.

Hakim Ziyech and Eliesse Ben Seghir scored to put Group E leaders Morocco in control before Edward Chilufya netted 10 minutes from time for second-placed Zambia.

Seko Fofana scored after 36 minutes as the Ivory Coast climbed to nine points, three more than Gabon. Kenya lie third with four after conceding a late goal to draw 1-1 with Burundi.

The perfect record of the Comoros in Group I ended when they fell 2-1 to fellow Indian Ocean islanders Madagascar in the night-time cold of Johannesburg.

Raveloson stars for Madagascar
Success for Madagascar took them to the top of the table with six points, ahead of the Comoros and Ghana on goal difference.

With Mali and the Central African Republic just two points behind, this could develop into one of the most closely contested mini-leagues.

France-based Rayan Raveloson starred for Madagascar, scoring in the first minute and again midway through the second half before El Fardou Nabouhane reduced arrears in added time.

After failing to score in matchdays one and two last November, Angola needed just two minutes to end the drought as Mabululu notched what proved the only goal of a match against Eswatini.

Winning 1-0 in Luanda lifted the home team to five points, two adrift of table-toppers Libya, who edged Mauritius 2-1 on Thursday.

Cameroon and Cape Verde are in the same section and victory for either side in Yaounde on Saturday will take them above Libya on goal difference.

Wins for Uganda and Mozambique created congestion at the top of Group G with four countries having six points.

Algeria, who have competed at the World Cup four times, occupy the top spot on goal difference, followed by Guinea, Uganda and Mozambique.

Muhammad Shaban netted after 74 minutes as Uganda edged Botswana 1-0 in Kampala, which can host matches again after the national stadium was declared unfit for international football last year.

Uganda will enjoy home advantage again in matchday four on Monday when Algeria, shock 2-1 losers to Guinea on Thursday, visit central Africa.

Mozambique quickly built a two-goal advantage over minnows Somalia in Maputo thanks to goals from Alfons Amade and Stanley Ratifo.

But the Somalis pulled one goal back midway through the second half when Ismail Maxamed netted to set up a tense finish.

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