JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – Cape Verde defeat Mozambique 1-0 Wednesday to become the first qualifiers for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations after a dramatic matchday 4 of qualifying.
The Blue Sharks were later joined by Algeria as goals from Yacine Brahimi, Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani earned the Desert Foxes a 3-0 triumph over Malawi in Blida.
Algeria are the only team with a perfect record after four rounds and lead Group B by six points from Mali with Ethiopia and Malawi three points further behind.
Democratic Republic of Congo stunned Ivory Coast 4-3 in Abidjan while title-holders Nigeria overcame Sudan 3-1 to get back into contention for a place among the 16 finalists.
Ghana stayed on track to qualify with a 3-1 home win against Guinea and shock 2012 champions Zambia trounced visiting Niger 3-0 to end an embarrassing winless streak.
Angola, Cameroon, Egypt, Ethiopia, Togo and Tunisia also won while the South Africa-Congo Brazzaville and Burkina Faso-Gabon matches were drawn.
Heldon Ramos was the toast of Cape Verde – a group of islands off Senegal with a population of less than a million – by scoring the 76th-winner in Praia.
The islanders debuted in the Cup of Nations last year and exceeded expectations by reaching the quarter-finals after holding hosts South Africa and Morocco and defeating Angola.
Cape Verde have nine points in Group F, Zambia and Mozambique five each and Niger two with the final two matchdays scheduled for mid-November.
Although Zambia and Mozambique could finish level on points with Cape Verde, the island nation would secure a place on the head-to-head rule.
Ivory Coast conceded four goals for the second time in three games as they wiped out a two-goal deficit with 10 men only to be beaten by a late goal.
Franck Kessie was red-carded just after half-time with his team trailing 3-1, but a brace from former Chelsea striker Salomon Kalou restored equality.
A Congolese side desperate to avenge a 2-1 home defeat by the Ivorians four days ago never gave up and Jeremie Bokila scored his second goal a minute from time.
Cameroon comfortably overcame Sierra Leone 2-0 in Yaounde through early goals from Leonard Kweuke and Stephane Mbia in the other Group D game.
The four-time champions have 10 points, DR Congo and Ivory Coast six each and Sierra Leone one.
Nigeria were another team to gain revenge as they put a stunning loss in Sudan behind them by winning 3-1 in Abuja.
All the goals came during the second half with Ahmed Musa opening and closing the scoring, Salah Ibrahim equalising and Aaron Samuel putting the Super Eagles ahead a second time.
With surprise Group A leaders South Africa held 0-0 by Congo Brazzaville in a poor, rain-affected Polokwane game, the two tickets to the finals are up for grabs.
South Africa have eight points, Congo seven, Nigeria four and Sudan three.