Minnows Botswana qualify for Africa Cup of Nations
Ramatlhakwane got the goal that sealed Bostwana's Nations Cup place
Minnows Botswana secured their first ever Africa Cup of Nations place on Saturday when beating Chad 1-0 in Group K of the 2012 qualifiers.
Striker Jerome Ramatlhakwane scored the early second half goal that brought Botswana a 1-0 triumph in Chad.
The win in Ndjamena moves the Zebras to 16 points, making them the first team to qualify for next year's tournament.
The southern Africans are now guaranteed to finish at least second in the five-team group.
Two teams from the group will qualify for the tournament to be played in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Botswana's stunning performances in reaching this stage have surprised watchers of the African game everywhere as they have won five of their six group matches and drawn one.
It was fitting that Ramatlhakwane should score the 50th-minute winner as he has contributed five of the seven goals that reaped 16 points from six matches, including home and away wins over over 2004 African champions Tunisia.
All of his goals have been match-deciders and another hero is coach Stanley Tshosane, who shunned the limelight as Botswana pulled off victory after victory in the only mini-league that offers two automatic finals places.
Meanwhile, Malawi survived a stern test to boost hopes of qualifying for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations after beating Togo 1-0 on Saturday.
Goalkeeper Simplex Nthala saved an early penalty to deny the Hawks before Moses Chavula struck the only goal.
The Group K victory in Blantyre moves Malawi to second on the table with nine points, seven behind leaders Botswana.
Togo's hopes of reaching the tournament are hanging by a thread as they are fourth on the table with three points.
The 2006 World Cup finalists hired coach Stephen Keshi this week to help revive their flagging campaign.
But the former Nigerian international could not prevent the defeat as they fluffed a penalty and missed several opportunities to punish the home side.
Malawi defender James Sangala handled the ball in his own goal area which gave gave Togo the hopes of taking the lead.
But the resultant penalty was beautifully saved Nthala before Chavula hit the match winner in the 18th minute.
Togo must now win their two remaining matches and hopes other results go their way before they can qualify for the tournament in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
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