Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Mali and The Gambia reach last 16

 Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Mali and The Gambia reach last 16

Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Mali and debutants The Gambia all reached the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday without kicking a ball.

Both Guinea-Bissau and Sudan could have secured one of the four best third-placed sides available but lost to Nigeria and Egypt respectively.

These defeats on Wednesday opened the doors for the five sides.

Celebrations will be particularly acute in Malawi and The Gambia as both sides reach the knock-out phase for the first time.

Tunisia also joined the teams in the second round despite defeat by The Gambia in a match that ended 1-0.

Should the 2004 champions lose by such a scoreline, Comoros – who are currently among the best third-placed sides – could achieve a fairytale qualification.

Two-time champions Ivory Coast are the sole side through from Group E so far and face Algeria in Douala on Thursday in a game the 2019 winners must take three points from to progress.

Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea, who meet in Limbe, can also progress from the group.

Three teams can still top Group F, with The Gambia, who have four points, playing Tunisia, who have a point less, while Mali, joint top with the Gambian Scorpions, take on already-eliminated Mauritania.

As the Nations Cup’s group phase closes , there are two rest days before the Round of 16 gets underway when Burkina Faso play Gabon on Sunday.