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No happy homecoming for Liberia

06 July 2015, 13:23

Johannesburg - There was no happy homecoming for Liberia at the weekend as a 1-1 draw with Guinea spelt elimination from 2016 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifying.

The west African nation had been barred from hosting international football for more than a year because of the Ebola epidemic, which the World Health Organization estimates has claimed 11,200-plus lives in the region.

Liberia was declared Ebola-free two months ago and Guinea were the first national team to visit since.

When prevented from playing in Monrovia, Liberian national teams and clubs fulfilled home fixtures at neutral venues or the ground of their opponents.

Trailing 3-1 from the first leg of a preliminary tie two weeks ago, Liberia took the lead in Monrovia when Vitalis Sieh converted a first-half penalty.

Also read: International football returns to Liberia after Ebola scare

But Alseny Camara levelled just before the hour to give Guinea an ultimately comfortable passage into the final qualifying round of a competition for home-based footballers.

Guinea, who failed to reach the three previous CHAN tournaments, play Senegal during October for a place at the finals in Rwanda.

Ismael Kone and Abdoulaye Sissoko scored in the final 15 minutes to earn Mali a 3-1 home victory over Guinea-Bissau, and a first-round date with Mauritania.

Malam Fati put the visitors ahead on the day and on aggregate after a drawn first leg and Boubacar Diarra equalised before half-time.

South Africa completed a double over lowly Mauritius with a 2-0 victory in Belle Vue on the Indian Ocean island.

Mauritian boasts that they would wipe out a 3-0 first-leg loss never looked like materialising, although the visitors took time to establish control.

William Twala rattled the woodwork during the second half before Mandla Masango broke the deadlock with a free-kick that was deflected past goalkeeper Kevin Jean-Louis.

Defender Wandisile Letlabika was rewarded for a forceful burst down the middle when he scored the second goal six minutes from time.

Angola promise to be tougher opponents for South Africa in the next round.

Seeds Burundi, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe were other aggregate winners while Lesotho upset Botswana.

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