September 7, 2013

2014 African World Cup qualifying A-J

A total of seven places in the African play-offs for the 2014 World Cup will be decided this weekend.

The campaign that has been made all the more dramatic because a number of matches have been overturned by football’s world governing body Fifa.

Ghana beat Zambia 2-1 in Kumasi on Friday to win Group D and join Algeria , Egypt and Ivory Coast in the play-off draw on 16 September.

The Black Stars went into the match needing just a point to advance.

A diving header from Abdul Majeed Waris and a thumping long range effort from Kwadwo Asamoah ensured victory.

Nathan Sinkala pulled one back for the visitors but the home side held on to collect three points.

Friday’s match was preceded by a series of accusations by Zambia of Ghanaian gamesmanship, including delaying their arrival by refusing landing rights for their charter plane and then denying them the chance to train at the venue on the eve of the game.

Ghana denied the allegations in statement on their football association website.

Here is a preview of all the games in Groups A to E – with only the pool winners advancing to the play-offs.

 

Group A 

Saturday: Central African Republic v Ethiopia (Brazzaville), South Africa v Botswana (Durban)

Ethiopia thought they had qualified for the final round of play-offs when they beat South Africa in June but they were then denied a place after it emerged they had used a player who should have been suspended.

Instead they now know only a win against Central African Republic will guarantee them a place in the next stage, a game that will be played in Brazzaville due to the continued security issues in Bangui.

The Ethiopians are still in pole position to advance and their coach Sewnet Bishaw is full of confidence.

“We may not score many goals but we’ll definitely beat them and make it to the last ten,” he told BBC Sport.

Getaneh Kebede, who is the joint-top scorer in the African qualifiers with five goals, has been included in the Ethiopian squad despite an injury.

Dean Furman says South Africa must simply concentrate on winning against Botswana
Dean Furman says South Africa must simply concentrate on winning against Botswana

Dean Furman says South Africa must simply concentrate on winning against Botswana

A draw for Ethiopia would let South Africa in – if they can beat visitors Botswana in Durban.

Meanwhile, the Zebras themselves have an outside chance of going through, if they can beat the 2010 World Cup hosts and Ethiopia lose to CAR.

Botswana have had mixed fortunes in the build-up to their game after losing 3-1 to Uganda but then beating Malawi in friendlies this week.

South Africa midfielder Dean Furman says Bafana Bafana must concentrate on their game and not worry about Ethiopia’s match.

“It’s not in our hands which is a bit of a disappointment but we’ve got to do all we can do to pick up the three points and hope that Ethiopia slip up,” he told BBC Sport.

“So we’ve still got a lot to play for, we hope results go our way and we can qualify for the play-offs.

“The most important thing is that we do our job – if it’s meant to be for us, then it’s meant to be.”

“I didn’t get a chance to play in the last World Cup but watching the show they put on in 2010 in South Africa was brilliant.”

Group B

Saturday: Sierra Leone v Equatorial Guinea (Freetown), Tunisia v Cape Verde (Rades)

Emilio Nsue Lopez was ruled to be ineligible to play for Equatorial Guinea
Emilio Nsue Lopez was ruled to be ineligible to play for Equatorial Guinea

Tunisia are another side who were celebrating making the play-offs, only to be denied after Fifa overturned results of earlier qualifiers, a decision that allowed Cape Verde back into the race.

The two sides meet each other in Rades with hosts Tunisia knowing a draw will be enough to take them through while a win will see Cape Verde qualify.

The Blue Sharks’ lifeline came from Equatorial Guinea using an ineligible player in both qualifiers against them, with Fifa ruling that Emilio Nsue Lopez did not meet its criteria on nationality.

The Nzalang Nationale dropped to the bottom of the group, following the Fifa ruling, and will play Sierra Leone in Freetown as they bid to avoid finishing last.

Group C

Saturday: Gambia v Tanzania (Bakau), Ivory Coast v Morocco (Abidjan)

Ivory Coast have already sealed top spot in the group and with it their place in the draw for the play-offs.

The Elephants will look to maintain their unbeaten record in the qualifiers when they host Morocco, who are the only team to have taken a point from them in this campaign.

Didier Drogba has retained his place in Sabri Lamouchi’s squad after being recalled for the 4-1 loss to Mexico in a friendly last month.

In the group’s other match, The Gambia will look for consolation with a first win of the campaign as they host Tanzania in a match that has pride alone at stake.

Group D

Sunday: Sudan v Lesotho (Omdurman)

Sudan host Lesotho on Sunday in a match to determine who will finish bottom of the pool.

Group E

Saturday: Burkina Faso v Gabon (Ouagadougou), Niger v Congo-Brazzaville (Niamey)

Both Burkina Faso and Gabon have lost points in the campaign due to eligibility issues over nationality, which means the group will only be decided by these final matches.

Congo have their destiny in their own hands and can win the group with victory in Niamey over Niger, who have no chance of advancing.

Defender Christopher Samba is part of the Congo squad for the crucial match after missing the two qualifiers in June, when a draw with Burkina Faso would have seen them advance.

But if the Red Devils lose, then the winner of match between 2013 Nations Cup runners-up Burkina Faso and Gabon can top the group – although the Panthers will need goal difference to turn in their favour if they are to finish ahead of Congo.

Group F 

Saturday: Kenya v Namibia (Nairobi), Nigeria v Malawi (Calabar)

Nigeria host Malawi in Calabar in a match that has been overshadowed by a racism row.

African champions Nigeria need only a point to win the group while The Flames must win the tie to finish top.

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi is hoping off the field controversies will not affect his team

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi

Belgian coach Tom Saintfiet has taken charge of Malawi with the sole purpose of beating Nigeria and helping the Flames qualify for Brazil,.

He is working with the team for free and has given up any potential win bonus.

A request from the Football Association of Malawi to have the venue of the match switched from Calabar on security grounds led to an angry outburst from Nigeria boss Stephen Keshi, with his comments being reported to Fifa.

Keshi has recalled Nosa Igiebor to his squad for the match, as the coach attempts to concentrate on the match rather than the controversy off the pitch.

For his part, Saintfiet dropped vice-captain Luck Malata from his squad at the last moment.

The defender, who missed July’s Cosafa Cup in Zambia to undergo trials in South Africa, played in Malawi’s 1-0 friendly loss to Botswana on Tuesday but the coach has decided he is no longer required.

Saintfiet did not even include regular captain Joseph Kamwendo in his squad for the match so he must now decide on a new leader for Saturday’s match.

Meanwhile, the Belgian was dismayed by the loss in Botswana, following a goal from Jerome Ramatlhakwana.

“I’m disappointed to have lost the game because I hate losing. I feel that the goalkeeper (Charles Swini) should have done better to deal with the cross which led to the goal,” he told the FA of Malawi website.

“We played well in the first half but we let Botswana come at us in the second half.”

Kenya host Namibia in the other game in this group where a win for the Harambee Stars would see them avoid finishing bottom of the group.

Group G 

Sunday: Zimbabwe v Mozambique (Harare), Tuesday: Egypt v Guinea (Alexandria)

Egypt are looking to maintain the only 100% record in the African qualifiers when they play Guinea in a match that does not take place until Tuesday.

With continued security problems in Cairo, the match was due to be played in Alexandria – but it has been thrown into doubt by the decision of the country’s Interior Ministry not provide security for the game.

The Egypt Football Association have appealed to the country’s interim Presidency to make sure that the game goes ahead.

Egypt cannot be caught at the top of the group, but if they forfeit the match against Guinea they could face sanctions from Fifa.

Meanwhile on Sunday in Harare, Zimbabwe face Mozambique as both nations try to register their first wins of the campaign.

Group H

Sunday: Benin v Rwanda (Porto Novo), Tuesday: Algeria v Mali (Blida)

Algeria are another nation who have already secured their place in the play-offs and so can begin their preparations for those ties when they host Mali on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Rwanda travel to play Benin in search of their first Group H victory.

Group I

Sunday: Cameroon v Libya (Yaounde), Togo v DR Congo (Lome)

Sunday’s encounter in Yaounde is another winner-takes-all match as Cameroon host Libya.

The Indomitable Lions only need to draw to advance thanks to yet another ineligible player – this time Togo’s Alexis Romao, who should have been suspended but played when the two teams met in June.

Togo won the game on the day but Fifa overturned that result and awarded Cameroon a 3-0 win that leapfrogged them above Libya to the top of the group.

Eyong Enoh says Cameroon will not be playing for a draw but going for a win
Eyong Enoh says Cameroon will not be playing for a draw but going for a win

Instead of needing to win, Cameroon now only need to avoid defeat to advance. Only a win will be good enough for Libya.

Despite this, Indomitable Lions midfielder Eyong Enoh insists Cameroon are going for all three points.

“The game on Sunday against Libya is serious business, and the players are hungry for victory,” he said.

“We are not going to play for a draw. Everybody’s mind is made up to win the game, and to win we need to score goals.”

“With the return of Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting and Samuel Eto’o and hopefully with aggressiveness and purposeful play, Cameroon should be able to score goals and get a victory.”

Germany-based striker Choupo-Moting returns from injury and is determined to give his best.

“Playing at home in Cameroon, a big football nation, our goal is to beat every team at home,” he insisted.

“We did not score in the last two games and I will help the team to score goals and play better football.”

The overturned result means Togo are another side looking for their first win in the group, as they host DR Congo in what will be the last game for coach Didier Six.

Group J

Saturday: Angola v Liberia (Lubango), Senegal v Uganda (Marrakesh)

Uganda have to win the match against Senegal in order to progress.
Uganda have to win the match against Senegal in order to progress.

One match will decide the winner of this group as Senegal ‘host’ Uganda on Saturday.

Yet the game is being played on neutral territory in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh as there is still a ban on the use of Senegal’s home stadium in Dakar.

The ban is in place after crowd trouble affected an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ivory Coast last year.

The Teranga Lions need just draw to advance while Uganda have to win the match in order to progress.

There is no Demba Ba in the Senegal team after he was dropped by French coach Alain Giresse.

Fellow striker Papiss Cisse is also absent, suspended after picking up two yellow cards in earlier qualifiers.

Uganda prepared for the match with a training camp in Turkey and dropped striker Geoffrey Massa from the squad because coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic felt he was ‘unfit’.

Additional reporting from BBC 

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