Mauritania qualified for the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations for the third time after a dramatic 2-1 victory over Gabon on Saturday.
The Group I final qualifying match took an unexpected turn early on as Gabon’s hopes were dashed just five minutes into the game.
Needing just a point to seal their spot at next year’s finals in Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritania made the perfect start when Gabon keeper Jean-Noel Amonome was sent off.
Amonome was shown a straight red card, leaving the Panthers with only 10 players to continue the battle.
Mauritania swiftly capitalized on their numerical advantage, breaking the deadlock in the 30th minute when Hemeya Tanjy found the net, giving Mauritania a 1-0 lead.
The Lions of Chinguetti continued to apply relentless pressure on the Panthers’ defence, and their efforts paid off in the 42nd minute when Aboubakar Kamara struck, extending the lead to 2-0 as the teams headed into halftime.
Gabon, determined to stage a comeback, intensified their efforts in the second half.
In the 85th minute, the Lions of Chinguetti faced their own setback as El Hassan Houbeib was shown a red card after receiving his second yellow, reducing Mauritania to 10 players as well.
In the dying moments of the game, Gabon managed to pull one back when Didier Ndong scored following an assist from Wilfried Ebane.
However, this late goal proved to be a mere consolation, as Mauritania held on to secure a 2-1 victory, clinching their spot in the 2023 Afcon finals.
This triumph marked the Lions of Chinguetti’s qualification for the Afcon finals for the third time, building upon their previous appearances in the 2019 edition in Egypt and the 2021 showpiece in Cameroon.
After recent appearances in Egypt and Cameroon, the Lions of Chinguetti now look ahead to Cote d’Ivoire next year.
DR Congo 2-0 Sudan
Meanwhile in the group match, DR Congo secured their place at the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations after a 2-0 home victory over Sudan on Saturday.
The Leopards knew only a win would be enough to qualify from Group I.
And early goals in each half from Theo Bongonda and Fiston Mayele sealed a comfortable triumph.
Bongonda struck after just eight minutes, firing home after being played in by Charles Pickel.
Despite chances to extend their lead, DR Congo had to wait until late on to make sure of qualification.
Mayele rifled in a second three minutes from time after good work from Meschack Elia.
The result saw DR Congo leapfrog Mauritania to top spot in the group as they qualified for the tournament to be played in Cote d’Ivoire next year.