Striker Baghdad Bounedjah’s early goal was enough for Algeria to beat Niger 1-0 in African Cup of Nations qualifying yesterday and book their place at the tournament in Ivory Coast next year.
Algeria are the second team to qualify after World Cup semi-finalists Morocco.
Bounedjah struck in the sixth minute, putting a shot in the bottom right corner after he was played in by Riyad Mahrez. Algeria held firm in a game played in Tunisia to improve their record to four wins from four in the final qualifiers.
The race is on between Tanzania, Niger and Uganda to take the other qualifying place in Group F alongside Algeria.
Morocco qualified last week without playing after South Africa and Liberia drew 2-2 on Friday. That meant Morocco will definitely take one of the top two places in Group K, which was reduced to a three-team and not four-team group because Zimbabwe was disqualified from the qualifiers.
Morocco made history last year in Qatar when they became the first African team to reach the last four of the World Cup and will be considered one of the favorites for the African Cup title next year.
Defending champions Senegal are also top of their African Cup qualifying group and on course to reach the final tournament following forward Sadio Mané’s return to action with his country last week. Senegal can qualify today if they win in Mozambique.
In other qualifiers yesterday, Nigeria gained revenge for a surprise home loss to Guinea-Bissau on Friday by winning in Guinea-Bissau 1-0. Moses Simon converted a penalty in the 30th minute to put Nigeria back on top of Group A.
Angola and Ghana drew 1-1 and Ghana lead a tight Group E by a point from Central African Republic, and three points from third-placed Angola with two rounds of games to play.