Ethiopia’s faint qualifying hopes for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations have ended after Uganda earned a place as one of the two best group runners-up.
Uganda booked their spot on Sunday by beating Comoros 1-0 to finish on 13 points, leaving only one best group runner-up spot remaining.
Ethiopia had given themselves a slim chance of progressing with a 2-1 win at home to Seychelles on Saturday which took them to 11 points, level with Benin.
But their inferior goal difference to Benin puts them out of the running for the last place.
It was unlikely the 1962 champions Ethiopia would get eight other results to go their way this weekend and reach their first Nations Cup since 2013 and only their second since 1982.
Instead, they have only a winning final match to look back on as they came back 1-0 down to win with Getaneh Kebede’s first-half strike and a Saladdin Said penalty.
Algeria, who finish their campaign against Lesotho on Sunday, had already qualified from the group, with 13 points, while Seychelles could only muster four, a point more than Lesotho.
One of the results Ethiopia needed already came in on Saturday night as Cape Verde – who needed to beat Libya to have any chance of progress – lost 1-0.
A home win would have taken Cape Verde to 12 points, so eliminating the Ethiopians, but instead the islanders’ dreams were left in tatters as the visitors scored in the 89th minute.
Elsewhere, Nigeria had Kelechi Iheanacho to thank for their first official win in Group G as they beat Tanzania 1-0 thanks to the Manchester City star’s long-range thunderbolt after 79 minutes.
The 2013 African champions, who have failed to qualify for the last two Nations Cups, had recorded an opening day victory over Chad only for the result to be annulled when the latter withdrew from qualifying.
The Super Eagles finish the campaign with five points from four matches, trailing group leaders – and qualifiers – Egypt by five points.
Cameroon, another side to have qualified before their final game, finished Group M unbeaten when beating The Gambia 2-0 in Limbe.
Striker Karl Toko Ekambi was the stand-out performer, winning a penalty – which Benjamin Moukandjo converted – before scoring his maiden international goal after 53 minutes and then hitting the post with a late free-kick.
The win left Cameroon with 14 points, comfortably ahead of Mauritania (8), South Africa (7) and The Gambia, who finished with two points.
In another dead rubber, Ghana ended Group H with a 1-1 draw at home to Rwanda to give the Black Stars a total of 14 points.
There were swathes of empty seats at the Accra Sports Stadium, which could be explained by Ghana having already qualified while some fans are dissatisfied with the way the country’s football is being run.
“Public affection for the Black Stars is an at all time low,” Ghanaian journalist Gary Al-Smith told BBC Sport.
Those who stayed away missed Samuel Tetteh giving Ghana the lead with a shot that goalkeeper Jean-Luc Ndayishimiye might not want to see again, before Muhadjiri Hakizimana equalised late on with a stunning free-kick.
In Maputo, Mozambique – who started the day bottom of Group H with four points – leapfrogged opponents Mauritius (six points) after beating them 1-0.
In Luanda meanwhile, a fearsome Gelson strike brought Angola from a goal down to register a 1-1 draw at home to fellow Group B also-rans Madagascar.
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