By Spy Uganda
DR Congo revitalized their hopes of progressing to the play-off phase of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup after beating Tanzania 2-0 in Dar es Salaam on Thursday to move top of Group J with eight points, one ahead of the Taifa Stars and Benin, who later play Madagascar.
Meanwhile, Uganda played to a 1-1 draw with Kenya to dim their hopes while Ghana’s Black Stars dropped vital points as they drew 1-1 with Ethiopia.
Heading into the game at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania were top of Grpup J with seven points, same as Benin but differentiated by goal difference. DR Congo were third with five points but determined to turn the tide. And they did so with an assured victory.
Gael Kakuta gave Les Leopards the lead in the sixth minute of the match, a perfect start after finishing off from Dieumerci Mbokani’s assist.
The visitors took the lead to halftime.
In the second half, Tanzania came off the break determined to get back on level terms and put their campaign on track. They came close early after the restart but Mbwana Samatta saw his header from a corner saved off by the keeper.
While Tanzania were searching for an equalizer, they were found flat off their guard in the 66th minute when Fasika Idumba scored the second for the Congolese.
The defender brilliantly directed the ball into the net, picking up a cross from Neskeens Kebano after a short start to a corner.
Ben Malango then crowned the victory for DR Congo five minutes to time when he headed the ball into the net after the ball was recycled into the box.
Uganda 1-1 Kenya
Uganda were headed for a defeat at home until Kenyan keeper Brian Bwire’s error saw them scrape a point in the 90th minute. The Kenyan keeper delayed to pick the ball from the ground as he tried to run down the clock with Kenya leading 1-0.
However, Fahad Bayo quickly jumped in to kick the ball into the net before the keeper could completely grasp it off the ground.
Michael Olunga had given Kenya a 62nd minute lead when he headed home a freekick from Amos Nondi.
With the result, Uganda are on nine points, one behind leaders Mali who play Rwanda later Thursday.
A victory for Mali will all but wind up the group as they will move four points clear with a match left.
Ghana 1-1 Ethiopia
Ghana’s hopes of qualifying to the next round have been dimmed after they played to a 1-1 draw with Ethiopia in Johannesburg.
Skipper Getaneh Kebede scored the equalizer for Ethiopia in the 72nd minute, cancelling out Andre Ayew’s opening goal.
Ayew had broken the deadlock after 22 minutes with a brilliantly taken freekick. They had more chances to score with Mohamed Kudus seeing his low shot go just wide while Kamal Sulemana had another rasping effort saved by the keeper.
In the second half though, Ethiopia came back stronger and came close when Kebede struck the upright with a well taken shot inside the box.
They were rewarded 18 minutes to time when Ethiopia punished the Ghanaians for losing the ball cheaply in a dangerous area. Abubeker Nasser squared the ball for his skipper who made no mistake with a thunderous shot.
The result sees Ghana remain second with 10 points, same as South Africa who play Zimbabwe later on Thursday. A win for South Africa against Zimbabwe will out them at a good position to qualify.