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Olympics debut beckons for Ivory Coast

15 October 2007 20:51

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - Ivory Coast look set for a first appearance at the Olympic Games after a dramatic 2-1 win in Mali at the weekend.

The Ivorians top Group B with nine points and another three at home to second-placed Zambia in mid-November will clinch one of three qualifying places reserved for Africa.

Gervais Kouassi was the Ivorian hero, scoring the stoppage-time winner via a penalty after Amadou Sidibe gave Mali a first-half lead from another spot kick and Kouamatien Kone equalised.

It was the third consecutive triumph for an Ivorian squad coached by veteran Frenchman Gerard Gili after losing their opening mini-league game against Zambia.

Senegal edged Zambia 2-1 in Dakar with the goals coming inside 13 minutes midway through the first half. Momar Ndiaye put the home side ahead, Felix Sunzu levelled and Sabou Diompy snatched the winner.

Cameroon surrendered a two-goal lead as Morocco grabbed a stoppage-time 2-2 draw in Rabat, but the central Africans clung to a one-point lead in Group C and remain favoured to qualify.

Goals from Ole Ole Junior and Christian Bekamenga put Cameroon in command just after half-time before Adil Hermach reduced arrears and Soufiane Benzouine equalised.

Cameroon visit Guinea next month and host Botswana in March and two victories will seal a third visit to the Olympics for a country that struck gold at the 2000 Sydney football tournament.

Gobonyeone 'Shoes' Selefa was the two-goal star as Botswana hit back to overcome Guinea 2-1 in Gaborone after Abdoulaye Sylla gave the visitors a 52nd-minute lead.

Italy-based striker Asamoah Gyan also scored twice as Ghana defeated South Africa 3-1 in Accra and another home win against Nigeria next month will give the Black Meteors an unassailable Group A lead.

Bernard Kumordzi was also on target for Ghana while Eleazor Rodgers headed an early second half goal for South Africa, who are out of contention after failing to win in three outings.

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