2021 Africa Cup of Nations: Ivory Coast and Madagascar win qualifiers

Kessie
Ivory Coast's Franck Kessie scored from the penalty spot

Ivory Coast and Madagascar both produced 1-0 victories on Saturday in the first round of Group K matches in 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.

Ivory Coast beat Niger 1-0 in Abidjan thanks to a second half penalty from AC Milan's Franck Kessie.

It was the second spot-kick of the game for the home side, after Max Gradel missed a first-half chance from 12 yards having argued with Arsenal forward Nicolas Pepe over who would take the kick.

Pepe had won the first penalty when he was fouled in the box and wanted to take it, but had the ball snatched from him by Gradel, who then saw his effort saved by Niger goalkeeper Kassaly Daouda.

Before kick-off, Ivory Coast's players paid tribute to Serey Die who had helped the Elephants win the Nations Cup in 2015, after he announced his international retirement in September.

Earlier in the day, Madagascar beat Ethiopia 1-0 in Antananarivo to get their 2021 Nations Cup qualifying campaign off to a solid start.

In the first match of Group K, the contest was settled by a solitary goal from Rayan Raveleson in the 19th minute.

Rayan Raveloson
Madagascar's Rayan Raveloson scored their crucial goal against Ethiopia

Madagascar made their debut at the 2019 Nations Cup finals in Egypt.

They famously beat Nigeria on their way to reaching the quarter-finals before losing to Tunisia.

The win over Ethiopia on Saturday was particularly poignant for Madagascar striker Faneva Andriatsima who had already confirmed that he would retire from international football after the qualifier.

The 35-year-old, who plays for Saudi Arabian club Abha, is Madagascar's all-time leading goal-scorer with 14 goals in 42 appearances.

The top two sides in 11 of the 12 groups will all advance to the 2021 finals in Cameroon.

Cameroon qualify for the finals as hosts but are taking part in the qualifying campaign to gain competitive match practice which means just one team from Group F will progress to the finals.

2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying results:

Saturday:

  • Madagascar 1-0 Ethiopia (Group K)
  • Ivory Coast 1-0 Niger (Group K)

Friday:

  • Morocco 0-0 Mauritania (Group E)
  • Zimbabwe 0-0 Botswana (Group H)
  • Tanzania 2-1 Equatorial Guinea (Group J)
  • Tunisia 4-1 Libya (Group J)

Thursday:

  • Mali 2-2 Guinea (Group A)
  • Ghana 2-0 South Africa (Group C)
  • DR Congo 0-0 Gabon (Group D)
  • Mozambique 2-0 Rwanda (Group F)
  • Egypt 1-1 Kenya (Group G)
  • Togo 0-1 Comoros (Group G)
  • Algeria 5-0 Zambia (Group H)

Wednesday:

  • Namibia 2-1 Chad (Group A)
  • Malawi 1-0 South Sudan (Group B)
  • Burkina Faso 0-0 Uganda (Group B)
  • Sudan 4-0 Sao Tome and Principe (Group C)
  • Angola 1-3 The Gambia (Group D)
  • CAR 2-0 Burundi (Group E)
  • Cameroon 0-0 Cape Verde (Group F)
  • Guinea Bissau 3-0 Eswatini (Group I)
  • Senegal 2-0 Congo (Group I)
  • Nigeria 2-1 Benin (Group L)
  • Sierra Leone 1-1 Lesotho (Group L)

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