Egypt beat a dynamic Guinea side from one goal down to secure a place in next year’s tournament.
Egypt came from behind to beat Guinea and qualify for a record 26th Africa Cup of Nations.
Egypt beat Guinea 2-1 on Wednesday to secure top spot in their group with a game in hand. It is the eighth country to qualify for next year’s 24-team event in Côte d’Ivoire.
Guinea needed only a draw to progress and took the lead in the 26th minute after Serhou Guirassy’s deft pass inside the penalty area from close range.
Almost after the restart, Egypt’s Mahmoud Trezeguet had a shot blocked by the Guinea keeper. The ball fell into the hands of captain Mohamed Salah, but the Liverpool striker slid it over the crossbar from close range.
It wasn’t long before Salah redeemed himself, however, when Trezeguet brought in Trezeguet on the right, who equalized with a superb effort from outside his feet.
Guinea had several chances in the second half until the 78th minute when Mustafa Mohamed, who was unmarked inside the penalty area, fired a volley into the top right-hand corner of the goal.
The win ensures Egypt will top Group D with a second chance at the African Champions Trophy, which they have won a record seven times.
The game was played in Marrakech, Morocco, and Guinea were forced to relocate from their home ground after inspectors from the Confederation of African Football ruled the stadium was unfit for competition.
Guinea’s defeat, on nine points, opened the door for the other two teams in the group, Ethiopia and Malawi, to play on Tuesday with three points each.
The winner of that match has a chance to catch up, but a draw would see Guinea through.
The Gambia, who made a surprise quarter-final run at the last tournament, boosted their chances of returning to action with a late goal that gave them a 3-2 win over South Sudan.
Gambia moved up to nine points in Group G and is level with Mali, who play away to Congo in Brazzaville on Sunday.
Guinea-Bissau’s 1-0 win over Sao Tome and Principe in a Portuguese-speaking derby earlier on Wednesday bolstered their chances of progressing from Group A, where they lead Nigeria by one point after five games. Group A.
A further seven qualifiers will be played in the penultimate round on Saturday.