Algiers – A successful night for west Africa saw regional powerhouses Senegal and the Ivory Coast qualify for the African Nations Championship (CHAN) quarter-finals on Sunday in Algeria.
Senegal, who began the final round in Group B lying second, trounced two-time former champions the Democratic Republic of Congo 3-0 in the eastern city of Annaba.
The surprisingly comfortable victory elevated the Senegalese to first, and a last-eight showdown with the Group D winners, probably Mali, this Friday.
Ivory Coast were last in the standings as they kicked off against then leaders Uganda, but a 3-1 triumph lifted them to second and qualification for the knockout phase.
The Ivorians will face Algeria on Friday in Algiers at the Stade Nelson Mandela, a ground where the host nation won all three Group A matches without conceding.
Senegal finished with six points, the Ivory Coast and Uganda four each and the DR Congo two in a competition confined to footballers playing for clubs in their country of birth.
Job done for 🇨🇮 and 🇸🇳
— MARHABA (@CAF_Online) January 23, 2023
The head-to-head rule separated the Ivorians and Ugandans, and ensured all three west African contenders will be involved in the quarter-finals as Ghana have qualified from Group C.
After holding DR Congo and beating Senegal, a Ugandan side coached by Serbian Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic hoped to go beyond the group stage for the first time in six attempts.
But they began disastrously, allowing Sankara Karamoko and Vignon Ouotro to put the Ivory Coast two goals ahead after 27 minutes.
Moses Waiswa impressively converted a penalty on 34 minutes to halve the deficit, and Uganda missed chances before Aubin Kouame notched a third Ivorian goal 12 minutes from time.
Luck was not on the side of the east Africans as the woodwork denied Travis Mutyaba a late goal off a brilliantly taken free-kick.
In Annaba, DR Congo fell behind midway through the first half when Ousmane Diouf scored and they were reduced to 10 men before half-time after the red-carding of Kevin Mondeko.
Senegal sealed victory with two goals inside three minutes, from Pape Diallo and a Baggio Siadi own-goal, in the closing stages.