Ethiopia, Mauritania qualify for Africa Cup of Nations, Benin refused to play Sierra Leone
Mauritania won and Ethiopia were trailing in an abandoned match as they secured places Tuesday at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, raising the number of qualifiers to 21 for the 24-team tournament.
Ethiopia were losing 3-1 to already-qualified Ivory Coast in Abidjan after 80 minutes when the Ghanaian referee collapsed and the visiting team refused to continue under the fourth official, an Ivorian.
The Ivorian was a late pre-match replacement after the original referee from Ghana withdrew, leading to his compatriot being promoted from fourth official to match referee.
Referee Charles Bulu received treatment at the national stadium before being taken to hospital. His condition was not immediately known.
Madagascar, who surprisingly reached the Cup of Nations quarter-finals when they debuted two years ago, attacked relentlessly but could not break down Niger, who conceded six goals when the sides last met.
Benin refused to play a key Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Sierra Leone Tuesday after challenging positive COVID-19 tests for five of their players.
Rows over COVID-19 tests have plagued African football since last year with host national teams and clubs accused of producing false positive results to deprive opponents of stars.
Talks between Sierra Leone, Benin and Confederation of African Football (CAF) officials in Freetown failed to resolve the standoff as both squads remained in their hotels.
Benin hold a three-point lead over Sierra Leone in Group L and both teams have a chance of finishing runners-up to Nigeria.
Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Comoros, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia and Zimbabwe are the other qualifiers.