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Leal shrugs off 15,000-kilometre journey to score AFCON winner


Johannesburg (AFP) – Luis Leal shrugged off a 15,000km journey and a big time difference to score and give Sao Tome e Principe a 1-0 win over Mauritius on Thursday in a 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier.   

The 34-year-old forward and best known Sao Tomean footballer struck after 36 minutes in the first leg of a preliminary round tie with the return scheduled for Sunday.

Both matches are being played in the Mauritian village of Saint-Pierre as no ground in Sao Tome meets international standards.

Leal had a chance to double the lead on 60 minutes but failed to score from a penalty for a team popularly known as The Falcons and True Parrots.

He plays for Guabira in the Bolivian top flight, a club based 795 kilometres (494 miles) east of the capital, La Paz.

By the time he reached the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, Leal had travelled 15,000 kilometres (9,320 miles) and landed in a country eight hours ahead of the one where he is based.

Portugal-born Leal played for clubs in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Cyprus, Paraguay, Mexico and Argentina before moving to Bolivia this year.

The winners of the preliminary tie join 47 other national teams in the group stage with 24 qualifying for the 2023 tournament, including hosts the Ivory Coast.

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