Reigning champions Equatorial Guinea is out of this year’s African Women’s soccer tournament in Namibia.
After drawing the first leg of their second round qualifier 1-1 on the road in the Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea was held to a 2-2 tie at home in the return encounter. They were eliminated on the away goals rule after the tie ended 3-3 on aggregate.
This is the first time that a defending champion has failed to qualify for the finals of the biennial tournament since it started 16 years ago.
It also marks the second occasion that Ivory Coast has reached the finals of the eight-team event following their appearance in Equatorial Guinea in 2012.
Also advancing to the last eight are Nigeria, who shut out Rwanda 8-0 and advanced on a 12-1 goal aggregate.
Algeria defeated North African rivals Tunisia 3-2 to progress 5-3 on aggregate and Cameroon beat Senegal 1-0 at home to advance 2-1.
Zambia also registered a 1-0 win at home over Zimbabwe to qualify 2-0 on aggregate and Ghana overwhelmed Ethiopia 3-0 at home to move through with a 5-0 aggregate.
South Africa advanced to the final after the Comoros withdrew from the tournament after the first leg game, which the South Africans won by a 13-0 margin on the road.
The finals, which take place from October 11-25, will also serve as the African qualifiers for the 2015 International Soccer Federation (FIFA) Women’s World Cup in Canada.
Meanwhile, Algeria has replaced Ivory Coast as Africa’s top men’s team in the latest FIFA rankings.
Ivory Coast has been the top ranked side on the continent since June 2011.
Algeria climbed three spots globally to number 22 while the Ivorians dropped two places to 23. The biggest mover in Africa was Guinea Bissau, which leaped 50 places to number 134.
In the African rankings, Egypt is in the 36thposition ahead of Ghana (37), Cape Verde Islands (39), Nigeria (44), Tunisia (48), Guinea (52), Sierra Leone (54) and Cameroon (56).
Africa’s World Cup representatives in Brazil are Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Cameroon, Algeria and Ghana.
The tournament starts this afternoon with host country Brazil taking on Croatia.
Cameroon will be in action on Friday, June 13 against Mexico while Ivory Coast will meet Japan the following day. Ghana and Nigeria begin their challenge against the United States and Iran respectively on June 16 and Algeria will face Belgium the next day.