x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

First finals in 24 years beckon for Algeria

Algeria and Tunisia moved a step closer to reaching the World Cup by winning their latest qualifier, while Nigeria's slender chances of advancing to South Africa were kept alive by a last-minute goal.

Algeria and Tunisia moved a step closer to reaching the World Cup by winning their latest qualifier on Sunday, while Nigeria's slender chances of advancing to next year's tournament in South Africa were kept alive by a last-minute goal. While Algeria beat Rwanda 3-1 and Tunisia won 1-0 against Kenya, Nigeria were jeered by their own fans as their patience reached breaking point before Victor Nsofor Obinna scored the winning goal in Abuja.

Goals from Abdelkader Gezzal, Nadir Belhadj and Karim Ziani in Blida mean that Algeria only need to avoid losing by three goals at Egypt on November 14 to become one of the six African teams at the event. Ghana, Ivory Coast and hosts South Africa have already qualified. The other spots will be decided in the final qualifying round next month. The Algerians, who last qualified for the World Cup in 1986, top Group C with 13 points, three more than Egypt, and have a superior goal difference.

Tunisia scored in the sixth minute in Rades through Issam Jomaa and were moments away from qualification until Obinna's goal. The Carthage Eagles lead Group B with 11 points, two more than Nigeria's Super Eagles. Both are unbeaten. The group winner will be decided when Tunisia visit Mozambique and Kenya host Nigeria. Meanwhile, Ghana conceded their first goal in five qualifying games in Group D, losing 1-0 at Benin as substitute Mohamed Aoudou scored in injury time.

"We're satisfied to have won at home, and especially scoring against Ghana, who did not need the win," the Benin coach Michel Dussuyer said. "I am proud of my boys." * AP