Comebacks, shocks as continental line-up set
© AFP

Most of Africa’s heavyweights made it through to next year’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations after the final round of the qualifiers ended on Sunday, with only one huge upset that saw four-time winners Cameroon bow out at the hands of minnows Cape Verde Islands, who will make their first ever appearance at the tournament.

The big match
Cameroon 2-1 Cape Verde Islands - Stade Ahmadou Ahidjo, Yaounde
Despite having striker Samuel Eto'o back in the fold, the Indomitable Lions could not overcome the two-goal deficit from the first leg after falling behind by yet another goal in the early going from Portugal-based striker Heldon Nhuck Ramos' free-kick. Achille Emana equalised the match before half-time, but the stunned crowd then watched their side knock on the door repeatedly without success. Eto'o hit the woodwork, but 16-year-old substitute Fabrice Olinga's late match winner on his debut was but a consolation for Cameroon, who will miss out on consecutive continental finals for the first time since 1980.

Elsewhere
Fellow heavyweights Morocco enjoyed better fortunes, successfully overturning a 2-0 deficit by beating Mozambique 4-0 in style. Abdelaziz Barrada opened the scoring for the hosts in Marrakech, while Houssine Kharja's penalty evened up the tie after a foul that saw the visitors reduced to 10 men. Late goals from Youssef El Arabi and Nordin Amrabat gave new national coach Rachid Taoussi a winning start. Likewise, Nigeria also recorded an emphatic victory, thrashing Liberia 6-1 to win 8-3 on aggregate, with Chelsea’s Victor Moses scoring twice and club team-mate John Obi Mikel converting a penalty. Title holders Zambia avoided a surprising exit by the skin of their teeth, defeating unfancied Uganda following a marathon penalty shoot-out. Zambia lost 1-0 in Kampala in the second leg as the match went into penalties, where they prevailed with a 9-8 victory. Ghana went through with a narrow 1-0 victory over Malawi, thanks to an early goal from Afriyie Acquah which gave them a 3-0 aggregate triumph.

Another team to come from behind was Ethiopia, who beat Sudan 2-0 in Addis Ababa with two second-half goals from Adane Girma and Saladin Said to go through on the away goal rule following a 5-3 defeat in the first leg. The same rule favored Angola, who beat Zimbabwe 2-0 with a brace from Manucho for a 3-3 aggregate draw. Senegal's hopes of over-turning a 4-2 first leg loss were thwarted by Didier Drogba's two goals before crowd trouble caused the abandonment of the match. The Elephants are set to make their fifth consecutive Nations Cup appearance as they chase an elusive title, having lost in the 2006 and 2012 finals to Egypt and Zambia respectively.

Tunisia failed to score in a goalless draw at home to Sierra Leone but still managed to qualify after scoring twice away from home in the 2-2 first-leg tie, while Togo's Emmanuel Adebayor scored for the second time in the tie to lead the Hawks past Gabon 2-1 after an even first leg. Mali, who finished third in the previous edition last February, eased through with a 4-1 win over Botswana to advance 7-1 on aggregate. Niger needed a late strike from Issoufou Boubacar Garba to beat fellow west Africans Guinea 2-0 and ensure their second consecutive Nations Cup appearance with a 2-1 aggregate victory. Algeria enjoyed a smooth ride at home against Libya, scoring twice in the first seven minutes with headers from Hilal Soudani and Islam Slimani to claim a 2-0 victory and a 3-0 aggregate win.

The player
Didier Drogba, looking as reliable as ever despite ending his glittering European career to join China’s Shanghai Shenhua in the summer, scored from a free-kick and a penalty to lift the Ivorians in a bad-tempered game against Senegal. Come January's finals in South Africa, the prolific targetman will be looking to make up for his famous penalty miss in the 2012 AFCON final defeat against Zambia as Côte d'Ivoire eye their first continental triumph since 1992.

The stat
30 –
The number of years since a resurgent Ethiopia have qualified for the Nations Cup.

What they said
"We are used to pressure. This will be my third Africa Nations Cup with Zambia. and I'm sure with the players I have, we can achieve more." Zambia coach Herve Renard after his side's heart-stopping penalty shoot-out win.

Up next
The Nations Cup draw will be held in Durban on 24 October.

Second leg results
13 October
Malawi 0-1 Ghana
(Ghana win 3-0 on aggregate)
Botswana 1-4 Mali
(Mali win 7-1 on aggregate)
Uganda 1-0 Zambia
(Zambia win on penalties 9-8 after a 1-1 aggregate score)
Nigeria 6-1 Liberia
(Nigeria win 8-3 on aggregate)
Tunisia 0-0 Sierra Leone
(Tunisia win on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate score)
Senegal 0-2 Côte d'Ivoire, score at abandonment
(Côte d'Ivoire win 6-2 on aggregate)
Morocco 4-0 Mozambique
(Morocco win 4-2 on aggregate)

14 October
Ethiopia 2-0 Sudan
(Ethiopia win on away goals after a 5-5 aggregate score)
Cameroon 2-1 Cape Verde
(Cape Verde win 3-2 on aggregate)
Angola 2-0 Zimbabwe
(Angola win on away goals after a 3-3 aggregate score)
Niger 2-0 Guinea
(Niger win 2-1 on aggregate)
Togo 2-1 Gabon
(Togo win 3-2 on aggregate)
Equatorial Guinea 2-1 Congo DR
(Congo DR win 5-2 on aggregate)
Burkina Faso 3-1 Central African Republic
(Burkina Faso win 3-2 on aggregate)
Algeria 2-0 Libya
(Algeria win 3-0 on aggregate)