Afcon qualifiers 2023: Mozambique, Mauritania and DR Congo qualify as Aubameyang's Gabon miss out

Clesio Bauque
Mozambique's goalscoring hero Clesio Bauque sealed his country's return to the Nations Cup

Three more countries sealed their places at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) on Saturday as Mozambique secured qualification with a dramatic 95th-minute winner.

Mauritania and the Democratic Republic of Congo also booked a spot at next year's finals, but there was disappointment for striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as his Gabon side missed out.

Three places are still to be resolved for Afcon which kicks off in Ivory Coast on 13 January.

Mambas return

Mozambique ensured their return to the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time since 2010 thanks to a late 3-2 win over Benin in Maputo in Group L.

The Mambas knew a draw would be enough against a Benin side who needed a victory to qualify.

Benin started the better, taking a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes thanks to a Steve Mounie penalty.

The hosts quickly fought back with goals from Witi and Ricardo Guimaraes to go 2-1 up, but Benin made it a nervous end for the home fans, finding an equaliser through Jodel Dossou.

As the visitors searched for a winner, Mozambique made sure of their place thanks to the decisive strike in injury-time from Clesio Bauque - a goal which saw Mozambique join holders Senegal as qualifiers from Group L.

Gabon's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came out of international retirement in May to play for Gabon

Aubameyang's Gabon miss out

All four nations in Group I went in to Saturday's games with a chance of qualifying.

But it was the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mauritania who made it through at the expense of Sudan and Gabon respectively.

Mauritania's home game against Aubameyang's Gabon in Nouakchott proved a tempestuous affair with red cards for both teams.

Gabon had to play most of the game with 10 men after goalkeeper Jean Noel Amonome was sent off for violent conduct in only the fifth minute.

Goals from Hemeya Tanjy and Aboubakar Kamara gave the hosts a comfortable 2-0 lead until Mauritania's El Hassan Houbeib was dismissed for two yellow cards late in the match.

Didier Ndong clawed one back for Gabon in the 91st minute but the home team held on to seal their place in Ivory Coast and deny Aubameyang - who only returned to the Gabon set-up in May at the request of now-deposed president Ali Bongo.

DR Congo topped Group I thanks to a 2-0 win over Sudan in Kinshasa. Theo Bongonda scored after eight minutes with Fiston Mayele adding a second late on.

Saturday's games were overshadowed by the earthquake in Morocco that killed more than 1,000 people.

It led to the postponement of Group K's dead rubber encounter between Morocco and Liberia.

Sunday's decisive Group G game between The Gambia and Congo-Brazzaville in Marrakech will go ahead.

Saturday's three qualifiers join Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mozambique, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Zambia at the finals alongside Ivory Coast, who qualified automatically as hosts.

The Elephants ended their Group H campaign with a 1-0 home win over Lesotho - Ibrahim Sangare of Nottingham Forest scoring from a Sebastien Haller assist.

More crucial games will take place up until 12 September as three final nations, including Cameroon, look to secure their place at the 24-team tournament - with a total of 21 teams now already through.