Bournemouth’s Tokelo Rantie scores and Hlompho Kekana’s wonder goal lifts South Africa in AFCON – The National

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Johannesburg // South African Hlompho Kekana struck a wonder goal and French coach Herve Renard made an instant impact with Morocco in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying Saturday.

Kekana scored from inside his own half five minutes after half-time as South Africa drew 2-2 with Cameroon in Atlantic town Limbe after leading twice.

Spotting Cameroonian goalkeeper Guy Roland Ndy Assembe off his line, the recalled South African midfielder thumped the ball from close to the touchline.

And to the horror of the capacity 20,000 predominantly Cameroon-supporting crowd, the ball sailed over the goalkeeper and dropped into the middle of the net.

Kekana has scored spectacular long-range goals for leading South African club Mamelodi Sundowns, but none to match the one that gave Bafana Bafana (The Boys) a 2-1 lead.

Cameroon recovered to equalise for a second time midway through the second half when defender Nicolas Nkoulou nodded a free-kick past hesitant goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune.

Striker Tokelo Rantie shrugged off rustiness after injuries and a lack of game time with English Premier League club Bournemouth to put South Africa ahead on 17 minutes.

Midfielder Sebastien Siani levelled in the final minute of the first half with a shot that flew into the corner.

A draw lifted South Africa off the bottom of the Group M standings, but they trail Cameroon by five points with three rounds left.

The 13 group winners and best two runners-up qualify for the 2017 Cup of Nations in Gabon.

Spain-based striker Youssef El Arabi converted a first-half penalty to give Morocco a 1-0 away win over top-ranked African team Cape Verde in their first match under Renard.

Although the Frenchman failed to save one Ligue 1 club from relegation and was fired by another, he has been highly successful in Africa.

The 47-year-old former Paris garbage collector led no-hopers Zambia to the African title in 2012 and repeated the feat with perennial underachievers Ivory Coast last year.

Egyptian Hassan Shehata and the late Ghanaian Charles Gyamfi each won three Cup of Nations titles as a coach, but only Renard has succeeded with different countries.

He replaced Badou Zaki last month after indifferent Moroccan results and another win over Cape Verde in Marrakech on Tuesday would virtually clinch a finals slot.

Morocco top Group F with nine points followed by Cape Verde with six, Sao Tome e Principe have three and Libya none.

Cedric Bakambu, the leading African scorer in the Spanish La Liga this season with 11 goals, put the Democratic Republic of Congo ahead in a 2-1 win over Angola in Kinshasa.

Victory lifted the 2015 bronze medalists from third to first in Group B with six points, Angola and the Central African Republic have four each and Madagascar two.

Traditionally difficult to beat at home, Burundi slumped 3-1 to previously winless Namibia in Group K with Benson Shilongo, Peter Shalulile and Hendrik Somaeb scoring for the visitors.

Burkina Faso replaced Uganda as Group D leaders thanks to a 1-0 win in Ouagadougou through a Jonathan Pitroipa penalty on the hour.

Although Indian Ocean islanders Mauritius and Seychelles have virtually no chance of reaching Gabon, they celebrated rare victories after beating Rwanda and Lesotho respectively.

A Francis Rasoloforinasa goal gave the Mauritians a 1-0 Group H win and Gervais Waye-Hive and Dean Suzette scored as the Seychellois triumphed 2-0 in Group J.

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Bournemouth’s Tokelo Rantie scores and Hlompho Kekana’s wonder goal lifts South Africa in AFCON – The National