- Ghana came from behind to draw with Angola
- Bukari levelled 30 second after his introduction
- Mahrez had a hand in Algeria’s winner over Niger
WHAT HAPPENED? Ghana went into the clash in Luanda needing a win to open up a three-point lead in Group E but could only salvage a 1-1 draw when substitute Osman Bukari swept home a lovely cutback from Joseph Paintsil, just 30 seconds after coming on.
Ghana coach Chris Hughton raised eyebrows when he left Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey on the bench, preferring Edmund Addo and Salis Abdul Samed in central midfield, and while they started well, they fizzled out of the game later.
Another big call was when Antoine Semenyo, scorer of the winner in the first leg last week, was rewarded with a starting berth ahead of the ineffective Inaki Williams.
However, it was Angola who drew first blood when Lucas Joao converted from the spot six minutes after halftime and with the pendulum swinging the home side's way, Hughton was forced to make four changes.
Williams came on for Semenyo, Paintsil replacing Kamaldeen Sulemana, Majeed Ashimeru on for Addo while Mohammed Kudus went off for Bukari and it took the latter just 30 seconds to make his presence felt.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: The draw leaves Ghana still top of the group but they just have a one-point lead over Central Africa Republic, who beat Madagascar 2-0 at home, with Angola third on five points, from four matches.
Meanwhile, Riyad Mahrez provided the assist as Algeria maintained their 100 percent record in Group F following a 1-0 win away to Niger.
Mahrez set up Baghdad Bounedjah to score the only goal after six minutes with the win confirming the 2019 champions’ place in next year’s tournament given Tanzania, second in the group on four points from three matches, are the only other team that can beat their tally.
Elsewhere, Congo Brazzaville avenged last week’s last-minute loss to South Sudan to win 1-0 and open up group G which is led by Mali on nine points, the Congolese second (six points), while South Sudan and the Gambia have three each.
WHAT’S NEXT? The next round of qualifiers will take place in June when most teams will secure their qualification slots.