The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
Lesotho, Rwanda surprise to make final round of African Cup qualifying; Kenya fires coach
CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Lesotho progressed to the final round of qualifying for next year's African Cup with a surprising victory over Kenya, prompting the Kenyan federation to fire its entire coaching staff.
Lesotho held on for a 0-0 draw in Kenya on Sunday to win the two legs 1-0 on aggregate, joining Uganda, Botswana, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Mozambique and another surprise, Rwanda, in the final group stage of the qualifiers.
The seven will now compete with seeded teams like Nigeria, the defending African champion, Ivory Coast and Ghana for the 15 places in the tournament, to be played in Morocco early next year. Morocco has already qualified as host.
The Kenyan federation said hours after the second leg against Lesotho in Nairobi that Algerian coach Adel Amrouche and his staff had all been sacked due to Kenya's "disastrous elimination."
"They have let the country down and as such they can have no further role to play in the affairs of the national team with immediate effect," Football Kenya said.
Amrouche had already been banned for a year by the Confederation of African Football for spitting at a match official in a qualifier earlier this year, a punishment the Kenyan federation was appealing.
Lesotho, a southern African nation of around 2 million people, has never qualified for Africa's top tournament. It'll now compete with Burkina Faso, Angola and Gabon for one of two automatic places at the finals from that group.
Rwanda also upstaged bigger opposition by beating the Republic of Congo 2-0 at home on Saturday to take the tie to a penalty shootout. Rwanda won the shootout 4-3 as goalkeeper Jean Luc Ndayishimiye saved three penalties in Kigali.
Malawi also came through a penalty shootout after John Banda's 15th-minute goal at home levelled the aggregate score against Benin 1-1 and took it to a shootout.
Uganda beat Mauritania 3-0 on aggregate, Botswana beat Guinea-Bissau 3-1, and Mozambique edged Tanzania 4-3 over the two legs after midfielder Domingues' goal in the 83rd minute of the second leg.
Sierra Leone qualified without having to play its second leg against Seychelles when the Indian Ocean island chose to forfeit the match rather than allow Sierra Leone's players to travel because of fears over the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. An Ebola outbreak has caused a public health emergency in Sierra Leone.
The decisive group-stage qualifiers for the 2015 Cup of Nations run from September to November.
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