The Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana both won their respective World Cup qualifying groups on Sunday, advancing to the March playoffs that will determine Africa’s representatives at Qatar 2022.
DR Congo beat Benin 2-0 in Kinshasa to finish one point ahead of their visitors in Group J, while Ghana’s 1-0 home win over South Africa at Cape Coast also meant they pipped their guests in Group G.
The two countries join Egypt, Mali, Morocco and Senegal in the final stage of the African preliminaries.
The 10 group winners play five two-legged ties to decide the African representation for Qatar, and the remaining four group winners will be decided on Tuesday.
Andre Ayew’s disputed first-half penalty was enough to allow Ghana to edge South Africa on goals scored after they both finished on 13 points, and with the same goal difference.
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DR Congo was awarded a generous penalty inside the opening 10 minutes to allow veteran striker Dieumerci Mbokani to give his side the lead. Ben Malongo added the second with a close-range header with some 15 minutes left.
The Congolese finished with 11 points, one more than Benin.
Also on Sunday, Ismaila Sarr scored a double for Senegal as they beat Congo 2-0 in Dakar to finish their group campaign unbeaten. They also amassed 16 points in Group H but had already booked their place last month.
Coach Aliou Cisse left out forward Sadio Mane, who had suffered a hip injury in the draw with Togo last Thursday. He returned to his club Liverpool on Saturday, Senegalese officials said.
Mali, who had already ensured a top place in Group E last week, also finished unbeaten, and with 16 points as they beat Uganda 1-0, courtesy of a first-half strike from Kalifa Coulibaly.