By Hawa Wesseh
Liberia will top group A after overcoming the Shore-men of the Red Sea on Tuesday afternoon in Monrovia at the famous Antoinette Stadium. It was a game Liberia had to win, if she wanted to get out of the group, and she did it in good fashion. Liberia scored its first two goals in the first half, before adding three more in the second. William Jerbo scored a hat trick after near misses in the first half. His goals came during the 47′, 57′ and 94 minutes. He recorded his second hat trick in less then a year, [a record] for the Stars, having the same feat accomplished also, against Guinea Bissau, last year.
Former captain and South African based Sundowns hit man Anthony Laffor opened the flood gates in the 13 minute, before Sam Johnson finished with a clinical volley that caught the Djibouti goal keeper by surprised in the 30th minute, as the Stars were up by two, before the whistle sounded for the second half, to a rapturous celebration on the afcons match day in the West African country.
By this huge margin, Liberia strangled Djibouti 5-0, making up for a goal drought five days ago, away, as she won 1-0. Courtesy of Laffor 65th minute goal.
The Lone Stars now topped the table with nine points in Group A, followed by Tunisia and Togo at seven points each, with Djibouti having no chance at all of qualifying now.
Senegal also had a chance of booking their place in Gabon following their 2-1 win in Niger – but they needed a draw between Burundi and Namibia. Instead, Burundi secured a 3-1 away to sustain the competition in Group K. However, leaders Senegal need only to avoid defeat against Burundi in June to ensure their qualification. Guinea came back from a goal down to win 2-1 in Malawi in Group L.
Idrissa Sylla’s 60th-minute winner lifts Guinea from bottom spot to second place in the table, above Swaziland on goal difference and three points behind group leaders Zimbabwe with two games remaining. Reigning champions Ivory Coast drew 1-1 with Sudan in Group I.
It effectively keeps Ivory Coast in pole position to qualify with six points, two points clear of Sudan and three ahead of Sierra Leone. The fourth team in the group, Gabon, lead the group with seven points but as 2017 hosts their matches do not count towards qualification.
In Group B DR Congo regained top spot with a 2-0 win over Angola. Joel Kimuaki Mpela and Jonathan Bolingi scored the goals for DR Congo who now have nine points, two more than Central African Republic. Rwanda thumped Mauritius 5-0 with Ernest Sugira scoring a rapid-fire brace in their Group H tie in Kigali. It gave Northern Irishman Johnny McKinstry’s side sweet revenge for their 1-0 defeat in Mauritius three days ago. Rwanda move up to second in the table on six points, four points behind Ghana.
Group D has tightened up after a 0-0 daw between Uganda and Burkina Faso, who had Charles Kabore sent off. Uganda and Burkina Faso have seven points and Botswana, who beat Comoros on Sunday, have six points with only two rounds of games remaining. There were no goals in the Group M games between The Gambia and Mauritania and South Africa and Cameroon. Cameroon have eight points and lead the group by a point from Mauritania.