Morocco and Tunisia qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Morocco and Tunisia qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Morocco and Tunisia qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Morocco have qualified for the World Cup for the first time since 1998 after they beat Ivory Coast 2-0 to knock their opponents out.

Despite needing only a point to qualify, the Atlas Lions weren't prepared to sit on a slender lead and doubled their advantage five minutes later when former Bayern Munich center back Medhi Benatia turned in a left wing corner.

Morocco needed only a draw from their final Group C game to finish top of the standings in the African preliminaries, ahead of the Ivorians, who had to win to clinch a fourth successive World Cup finals appearance. Had Tunisia lost, the two teams would have finished level on points and goal difference and Congo would have taken the World Cup place for scoring more goals in the qualifying campaign.

Ivory Coast, who never looked like recovering from the first-half blows, came second with eight points followed by Gabon with six and Mali with four.

Dirar gave his side the lead in the 25 minute when a cross-cum-shot from the Fenerbahçe winger eluded Ivory Coast keeper Sylvain Gbohouo.

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Both nations join Nigeria, Egypt and Senegal, as Africa's representatives at the global finals next year.

Meanwhile, Tunisia's goalless draw against Libya proved enough to seal their World Cup spot from Group A.

Tunisia dominated possession at the Stade Olympique, but unpredictable Libya defended resolutely, creating an increasingly tense atmosphere. Nine minutes after, the Guinea's Karamokoba Keita cancelled the goal.

Jonathan Bolingi put the Congolese Lions ahead again two minutes into additional time and Neeskens Kebano added a third goal nearly immediately.

DR Congo were the only team still with a chance to catch Tunisia, but they fell short despite a late 3-1 win over Guinea.

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