COSAFA sides advance in Cup of Nations qualifiers

Lesotho and Eswatini secured their passage to the group stages of 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualification on Sunday, but there was disappointment for Mauritius.

The teams are vying to reach the next stage of the preliminarily competition for the finals that are due to be staged in the ivory Coast next year.

Lesotho earned their place after a 3-1 victory over fellow COSAFA rival Seychelles at the neutral Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto. The first leg tie had finished 0-0.

Katleho Makateng scored a brace for the Likuena, while striker Motebang Sera scored as well in the comprehensive win. Seychelles netted via the penalty spot.

Eswatini eased into the next stage with a 2-1 home win over Somalia at the Mbombela Stadium in South Africa to claimed a 5-1 aggregate success.

Much of the hard work had been done in the away leg when they won 3-0 in Dar es Salaam, and it would have been a major shock had they not advanced.

Sabelo Ndzinisa and Fanelo Mamba netted the goals for Eswatini in the return game.

But there was no such luck for Mauritius, who played to a 3-3 draw with Sao Tome e Principe to go out 4-3 on aggregate. That is despite both legs being played in Mauritius.

Mauritius took the lead via a Kevin Bru penalty, but the visitors turned the tables with two goals befoe halftime as Cardoso and Leal scored. The latter had also netted the goal in the first leg.

Dylan Collard equalised for Mauritius, but that joy was short-lived when Cardoso scored his second two minutes later.

Mauritius were thrown a life-line when striker Ashley Nazira equalised to make it 3-3 on the day, but they could not find the extra goal they needed to send them through.

Botswana had already secured their passage to the next stage when their opponents Eritrea pulled out, while South Sudan overcame Djibouti 5-2 on aggregate to win.

Chad and Gambia must still complete their tie. The latter lead 1-0 with the home leg to come in neutral Morocco on Tuesday.