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Morocco eliminate Tunisia in African Nations Championship

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Morocco's Benjelloun Abdessamad (left) vies for the ball with Tunisia's Mhirsi Driss during the African Nations Championship qualifying match on July 13, 2013. Holders Tunisia were eliminated in the first qualifying round after drawing 0-0. (AFP)

African Nations Championship (CHAN) holders Tunisia were eliminated this weekend in the first qualifying round.

They drew 0-0 away to Morocco in the second leg, but fell 1-0 on aggregate after losing at home last Saturday.

Packed with stars from CAF title-winning clubs Esperance, Etoile Sahel, CS Sfaxien, Club Africain and CA Bizertin, Tunisia were expected to advance.

But a last-minute breakaway goal from striker Abdessamad Mbarki in Mediterranean resort Sousse proved decisive over two defence-dominated games.

Tunisia won the second edition of the tournament for home-based footballers with a 3-0 drubbing of Angola in Sudan two years ago.

But coach Nabil Maaloul chose only goalkeeper Farouk Ben Mustapha from the title-winning squad to confront the Moroccans.

The 16-nation 2014 tournament is scheduled for January 11-February 1 in South Africa and Morocco will appear at the finals for the first time.

South Africa qualify automatically as hosts and Ghana and Libya have secured places after opponents Benin and Algeria withdrew.

Uganda are set to join them after building a 1-0 away advantage over Tanzania in an east Africa derby.

Midfielder Brian Majwega was the architect of the 48th-minute winner, setting up defender Denis Iguma to fire across goalkeeper Juma Kaseja into the net.

Tanzania had more possession in the eagerly anticipated Dar es Salaam showdown, but were let down by woeful finishing.

Mrisho Ngasa was repeatedly off target with long-range shots and striker John Bocco also disappointed when offered scoring opportunities.

It was the third consecutive victory for Serb coach Milutin Sredojevic since succeeding sacked Scot Bobby Williamson as Uganda coach last month.

He guided the 'Cranes' to World Cup qualifying wins over Liberia and Angola, and a victory over Senegal during September would take them to the play-offs.

However, Sredojevic cautioned against premature celebrations, especially given the Ugandan habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

"By winning the first leg we have got only the passports for South Africa and now we need to get the visas by winning the return match," he told reporters.

Ethiopia host Rwanda later on Sunday in the remaining fixture this weekend with second-leg fixtures scheduled for late July.