Mozambique were dramatically denied a place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations after they drew 2-2 with hosts Guinea-Bissua at Estadio 24 de Setembro in Bissua on Saturday evening.
The Mambas needed victory to have any chance of advancing from Group K but, after scoring what seemed to be a late winner, they conceded a last-gasp equaliser which means the Djurtus and Namibia (who were hammered 4-1 by Namibia in a concurrent match in Lusaka) will be in the draw for the AFCON.
Guinea-Bissau got off to a great start and claimed the lead as the early as the 12th minute, with Piqueti Djassi finishing off a cross from the right flank in fine style to send the home crowd into rapture.
The hosts dominated the match through the remainder of the first half, with Mozambique struggling to create chances with which to test Djurtus goalkeeper Jonas Mendes.
At the other end of the pitch, Jose Ventura was the busier of the two gloves-men, though the score remained only 1-0 in favour of Guinea-Bissau up to the half-time whistle.
Mozambique started the second half strongly and claimed an equaliser in the 49th minute, with Stanley Ratifo running onto a ball over the top, hurdling a challenge and then slipping a shot through the legs of the ‘keeper to make it 1-1.
The home side had a great chance to reclaim the lead midway through the second half when Djassi’s flick-on put Toni Silva in on goal, but the winger was brilliantly denied at close range by goalkeeper Ventura.
Mozambique began throwing more and more men forward in the dying stages and they were finally rewarded in the 89th minute when a long throw-in was poorly dealt with by the hosts and substitute Nelson Divarassone squeezed the ball home from close range to put them 2-1 up.
Yet the Mambas seemed to relax with qualification within their grasp and in injury time they allowed Guinea-Bissau to equalise through Frederic Mendy – after something of a goal mouth scramble from a free kick – to see the game end 2-2.
Guinea-Bissau (1) 2 (Djassi 12’, Mendy 90+2’)
Mozambique (0) 2 (Ratifo 49’, Nelson 89’)
GB: J. Mendes, Soares, Rudinilson, Cassama, Balde, Mane, Judilson, Zezinho, Toni Silva (Jorginho 84’), Mendy, Djassi (Joao Mario 75’).
Mozambique: Ventura, Matola, Quembo, Ratifo (Maninho 83’), Mustafa, Reginaldo (Antonio 73’), Feliciano, Pelembe, Edson, Edmilson, Renildo (Nelson 84’)