Cameroon and Mali qualified for the 2018 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals from Group A on Friday as hosts Ghana were eliminated along with Algeria.
Ghana drew 1-1 with Cameroon in Accra but the point was not enough for the home favourites as Mali beat Algeria 3-2 in Cape Coast.
It means that both Cameroon and Mali have a chance to represent Africa at next year’s World Cup with the top three finishers in Ghana all qualifying for France 2019.
In Accra, Ghana played like the team that needed the win against Cameroon, keeping a lot of the possession – but the early chances were long range efforts that either went wide or over the bar.
Captain Elizabeth Addo, restored to the starting line-up, had a free-kick saved and then saw a decent strike from a narrow angle hit the post and go for a corner.
On the half-hour mark the hosts took the lead when a Portia Boakye free-kick from the left floated high into the area and Anette Ngo Ndom misjudged the flight of the ball which dropped behind her into an empty net.
Cameroon equalised shortly before half-time when Aboudi Onguene was fouled running down the left wing for a blatant penalty.
Captain Christine Manie rolled the ball to the left with Asantewaa, who replaced previous first choice Patricia Mantey, diving the other way.
With the score level at 1-1 in Accra, Ghana looked as though they would progress at the expense of Mali, but the Malians staged a dramatic fight-back after twice going behind to Algeria in Cape Coast.
Mali could have taken the lead themselves after 19 minutes when they were awarded a penalty but Bassira Toure’s effort was saved by Kahina Takenint.
Lydia Belkacemi then put Algeria ahead after 37 minutes, with Fatoumata Diarra hitting an equaliser for Mali in the second half.
Imene Merrouche restored Algeria’s lead from the penalty spot in the 62nd minute to make it 2-1 with Mali seemingly down and out.
But a dramatic goal from Aissatou Diadhiou seven minutes from time made it 2-2 to Mali – which meant Ghana needed to score again to avoid elimination.
Mali made sure of their place in the semi-finals with an injury-time winner, again from the spot, from Fatoumata Diarra – her second of the game.
On Saturday, the focus will be on Group B as holders Nigeria face former champions Equatorial Guinea, with Zambia up against South Africa in the other match.
All four sides have a chance to reach the semi-finals.