Victories away from home took Congo and Ethiopia a step further towards a place at the final round of the qualifiers, ahead of the return leg matches of the second round in a fortnight.
Congo left it late against newly crowned COSAFA U-17 Champions, Namibia, snatching a 2-1 win in Windhoek whilst Ethiopia were ruthless against Egypt, beating the latter 3-1 in Cairo, both on Saturday.
The Junior Warriors of Namibia played the last half-hour with ten men after Godwin Awaseb was given the marching off orders for a foul on a Congolese attacker. Earlier Langa Bercy had shot the visitors into the lead after just six minutes before Junior Petrus restored parity on 71 minutes. Bercy struck the winner on the stroke of full time to wrap up victory.
Ethiopia forward Elemo Teshita inspired his side to a stunning win after going down to Mahmoud Abdelghani’s 17th minute opener. Teshita cancelled the lead seven minutes later before squaring Ahmed Nasir to give the visitors the lead four minutes before the break. Gudisa Mekonen put the icing on the cake with the third goal in the dying embers of the game.
The win served a sweet revenge for the Ethiopians who lost 1-0 to Egypt at the semi-final of the continental championship in 1997 in Botswana; as the Young Pharaohs went on to record their only success in the history of the cadet championship.
Elsewhere, Comoros earned a famous 2-1 win over Mozambique in Moroni to put their noses in front. Rakibou Ali and Ayman Mohamed scored in each half to give Comoros a two-goal lead before Muhammad Sidat reduced the deficit in stoppage time.
Tanzania’s Serengeti Boys bounced back to hold South Africa to a 1-1 draw away in Johannesburg. Luke Le Roux broke the deadlock for the Amajimbos from the spot on 63 minutes, only for Ally Msengi to draw level, also from a penalty seven minutes later.
Reigning World champions, Nigeria managed a narrow lone goal victory over neighbours Niger in Abuja thanks to Usman Musa Babalolo’s first minute goal.
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