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Three-way race for second and final qualification spot in AFCON qualifying Group E remains unresolved following Friday draws

A pair of draws left the situation in Group E unchanged on Friday in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying as Morocco are the only team comfortable at the top. Going on the road to Mauritania the hosts did well to keep the Atlas Lions attack in check, holding the group leaders to a 0-0 draw to stay in second place. In the other match Burundi hosted another thriller by coming back from two goals down to tie Central African Republic 2-2, keeping the Swallows in the chase but now needing a result in Morocco due to their failure to grab a victory.

Facing a Morocco side that featured Chelsea playmaker Hakim Ziyech, the task of getting a result was a tough proposition even in the confines of home for Mauritania. Ziyech signaled his intent to impact the game early on, creating opportunities with a couple of passes and then curling an effort over just shy of 21 minutes. However, neither team threatened too much by the time the halftime whistle sounded.

It was all Morocco in the second-half but the visitors could not put a shot on target to pose a serious threat. Set pieces were well defended by the Mauritanians and the hosts even threatened to steal a win late on. In the end both teams were content with sharing the points.

Meanwhile, in the earlier match Burundi once again left it late to get a result in front of a packed home support. Central African Republic played excellently on the road to start and were rewarded on both sides of halftime. The first goal was something to behold in the 40th minute. Poor goalkeeping from Prince Samolah saw him spill a cross off his knee, close down the resulting shot from the rebound and clear the ball in haste. The long ball caused all sorts of issues for the Burundian defense and Neuchâtel Xamax forward Louis Mafouta seized on a poor backpass to loop his shot over Onesime Mukondo.

By the second half heavy rains made playing conditions more difficult. Mafouta was on hand to steer home from close range following an excellent ball in the 53rd and Les Fauves were in excellent shape. However, Burundi captain and creative force Saidi Ntibazonkiza turned in a 59th minute rebound and the crowd helped swing the momentum back to the home side. The 80th minute brought the equalizer when Leixões midfielder Christophe Nduwarugira was wide open to head in from a well executed corner-kick.

Highlights of both matches are below. Burundi will travel to group leaders Morocco for their final match while Central African Republic can steal qualification at the last minute with a win at home against Mauritania.

Mauritania 0-0 Morocco (for USA/Canada readers)

Mauritania 0-0 Morocco (for international readers)

Burundi 2-2 Central African Republic


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