South Africa (hosts of the last World Cup) will not be appearing in Brazil after being eliminated by crashing to a 2-1 defeat on Sunday to table toppers Ethiopia. The Ethiopians along with Algeria, Tunisia, Ivory Coast and Egypt all progress to the final ten places as we enter the final group games in September. Here’s Will Burns with a game-by-game round-up from all this weekends action.
ETHIOPIA 2-1 SOUTH AFRICA: The South Africans have been eliminated from World Cup qualification after being defeat by table toppers Ethiopia. The surprise package of African qualifiers this year came from behind to beat the Bafana Bafana after a Bernard Parker goal on 33 minutes put the visitors ahead. Getaneh Kebede levelled the game up just before half-time, but then Parker turned from hero to villain with an horrific own goal to send the Ethiopian crowd in raptures. From a free kick an attempted clearance went awry as Parker only managed to head the ball perfectly into the top corner of the net.
BOTSWANA 3-2 CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC: Botswana claimed their first win of the qualifiers after defeating Central African Republic 3-2 in Lobatse on Saturday afternoon. It was a game with only pride at stake as neither team has a mathematical chance of advancing to the final phase of qualifying. The ‘Wild Beasts’ opened the scoring just past the half hour mark through Nicaise Ozingoni, but a Jerome Ramatlhakwane penalty (the conceding of which saw CAR defender Ali Tolmbaye sent off) levelled the scores at 1-1. The 10-man visiting team reclaimed the lead against the run of play early in the second half through a second for Ozingoni, but Platinum Stars winger Mogakolodi Ngele struck in the 74th minute to once again restore parity for the Zebras.
CAPE VERDE ISLANDS 1-0 SIERRA LEONE: Cape Verde striker Heldon ‘Nhuck’ Ramos of Maritimo scored the only goal as the Islands held on for 1-0 win over Sierra Leone at the Estádio da Várzea. This stops Sierra Leone’s chances of going further as Tunisia now are through to the playoffs.
EQUATORIAL GUINEA 1-1 TUNISIA: The already qualified Tunisia were held to a draw by bottom team Equatorial Guinea. Two penalties were converted in the match, captain Juvenal for Eq. Guinea and Oussama Darragi replaied for the visitors.
MOROCCO 2-0 GAMBIA: Morocco’s hopes of reaching Brazil is over even though the North Africans defeated Gambia on Saturday night. Goals from Abdelaziz Barrada and Younes Belhanda sealed the win for the Moroccans, who never looked in trouble against their outclassed opposition.
TANZANIA 2-4 COTE D’IVORIE: Man City’s Yaya Toure netted twice in Ivory Coast’s 4-2 victory over hosts Tanzania and the win guarantees the West Africans passage to the playoffs. The hosts took the lead two minutes into the game with Amri Kiemba scoring, but the visitors equalised 11 minutes later through Lacina Traore. On 35 minutes Toure made it 2-1 with a hard strike past Juma Kaseja. After tight marking of Mbwana Samata, his teammate at TP Mazembe Thomas Ulimwengu made no mistake, making it 2-2 on 35 minutes. As the game seemed destined for a 2-2 draw after the first half, Ivory Coast got a penalty after Giovani was brought down. Toure made no mistake, sending the Tanzanian goalkeeper the wrong way. The visitors came back hungry for more goals in the second half, dominating play. The hosts also pushed forward with good home support, but to no avail. Substitute Wilfried Bony netted late after three minutes of added time had been showed to give Ivory Coast a 4-2 victory.
ZAMBIA 1-1 SUDAN: The Zambian hopes of reaching the finals were yesterday halted when Sudan frustrated the Chipolopolo at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola. Mohamed Koko Abdalla equalised a minute after Jacob Mulenga headed the Chipolopolo into the lead on 68 minutes and Sudan held on until the final whistle as they collected only their second point in the campaign.
LESOTHO 0-2 GHANA: Ghana regained control in Group D after a 2-0 win at Lesotho on Sunday. The Black Stars have a one point lead now and have leapfrogged Zambia. After reeling under pressure in the opening 40 minutes, Ghana opened the scoring against the run of play. AC Milan ace Sulley Muntari dinked in a free-kick which was headed on by Jonathan Mensah for centre-back John Boye to finish off. Lesotho coach Leslie Notsi was forced to replace first choice goalkeeper Mohau Kuenane just after the hour mark for picking up an injury. Phasumane Kholuoe took his position and in the 85th minute he picked up a ball from his net after failing to stop Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan. Muntari is in hot water with the coaching staff following his disrespect after being substituted just after the hour.
CONGO 0-1 BURKINA FASO: Burkina Faso reduced the gap on leaders Congo to one point with a 1-0 win. Aristide Bance struck the only goal of the game in the 38th minute to move Burkina Faso onto nine points. Congo knew that a win over the Burkinabes would increase their chances of progressing into the next round of qualifiers, but it did not come to fruition.
GABON 4-1 NIGER: Three penalties from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang saw ten-man Gabon defeat Niger 4-1, in which the visitors were reduced to nine men. This result now gives Gabon the slimmest of chances of still qualifying. Yacouba Seydou handed the visitors a 14th minute lead, but treble penalties from Aubameyang one in the first half and two towards the end of the match helped Gabon to the win. The three points were safe when defender Bruno Eculele Manga made it 3-1 in the seventh minute of stoppage to put an end to a highly eventful encounter. Aubameyang scored his third penalty in stoppage time to wrap up the 4-1 victory. Gabon would now need to defeat Burkina Faso and Niger defeat Congo with a combined four-goal deficit for Les Panthères to go onto the next stage.
MALAWI 2-2 KENYA: The Kenyans will be happy their team managed a 2-2 draw away to Malawi. Even though the tie virtually means end of the road for any chances for the Harambee Stars and advantage for Nigeria, many Kenyans are happy the team picked a point without their stars Victor Wanyama and Dennis Oliech. Robin Ngalande gave the hosts an early goal in the 46th minute, before Jamal Mohammed equalized six minutes later. As the visitors seemed to settle and play better football, Robert Ng’ambi scored a second goal for Malawi in the 82nd minute, only for Kayira to place the ball in his own net. It was a late 90th minute Chimango Kayira own goal that saved the Harambee Stars from suffering a second defeat in seven days.
NAMIBIA 1-1 NIGERIA: The Super Eagles of Nigeria will now have to wait till September to reach the final stage of the qualifiers after they drew 1-1 in Namibia on Friday. Substitute Deon Hotto Kavendji put hosts Namibia ahead in the 76th minute to send the home crowd into wild jubilation. Sunshine Stars captain Godfrey Oboabona made up for the mistake that led to the Namibia goal when he equalised for Nigeria seven minutes from time. He curled home a free kick from 25 yards past the outstanding Namibia goalkeeper after Nnamdi Oduamadi was brought down around the goal area.
MOZAMBIQUE 0-1 EGYPT: Egypt have booked their place in the play-off round after a 1-0 victory over Mozambique in Maputo on Sunday. A lone goal from Mohamed Salah sealed the victory, which gives The Pharaohs an unassailable lead at the top of their pool. Egypt have hopes of reaching their first World Cup finals since their appearance at Italia ’90.
GUINEA 2-0 ZIMBABWE: Zimbabwe caused headline this weekend an incident occurred when the country’s cash-strapped Football Association decided to leave it until the last minute to book flights to Conakry for the game, in the hope of getting them at a bargain price. Their bungling officials didn’t count on there not being enough seats left, which is exactly what happened when they eventually booked the tickets this week. Zimbabwe’s FA did secure 14 seats but not enough to take the full squad, meaning a squad of just 12 made the journey, along with their manager Klaus Dieter Pagels and the team doctor. So it was no surprise that they lost 2-0 to Guinea on Sunday night thanks to two goals from Mohamed Yattara.
RWANDA 0-1 ALGERIA: A goal from Bologna midfielder Saphir Taider fetched the three points that Algeria needed to qualify for the playoffs, and a 1-0 win over Rwanda on Sunday afternoon. Taider’s goal the only goal of the game which brought Algeria up to twelve points at the top of Group H and four points clear of Mali in second.
MALI 2-2 BENIN: Mali’s hopes of Brazil were dashed at the expense of Benin with goals from Sunderland’s Stephane Sesseggon and Razak Omotoyossi. Mahamadou Samassa hit back with a spot kick and substitute Cheick Diabate grabbed the equaliser.
LIBYA 2-0 TOGO: After the failure to beat DR Congo in Tripoli last week, Libya regained the hope of qualifying for the finals for the first time in their history with a 2-0 win over Togo. Libya now have a great chance of winning Group I heading into the final game two points ahead of second-place Cameroon. The hosts won a penalty seven minutes in the game and this time the responsibility to take the spot kick was given to Faisal Salah. He kept his cool and converted and the Libyans did not rest on their laurels but kept up the pressure. They were rewarded for a second time in the 18th minute from a Kamlan Amewou own goal. Togo now have no chance of qualifying for Brazil.
CONGO DR 0-0 CAMEROON: Cameroon held DR Congo to a goalless draw on Sunday in Kinshasa, leaving the Leopards with no more hope to reach Brazil. The Cameroonians slightly dominated the first half, but without anything to show on the score board. The second half did not change the scoreline with both teams unable to convert their opportunities, and a strong Cameroonian defence denying a desperate Congolese side who reacted too little too late to keep their hopes alive in the competition. The Leopards are now out, while the Indomitable Lions will have no choice but to beat Libya in Yaoundé in September to go through to the next round.
UGANDA 2-1 ANGOLA: The Ugandans fought back from a goal down to see off ten-man Angola 2-1 at Namboole as the Cranes kept alive their hopes of progressing to the knockout playoffs. Emmanuel Okwi and Tonny Mawejje won it for Uganda in the last seven minutes after the home side had gone down to a Ricardo Estevao goal. There was also enough time for Angola defender Fabricio Mafuta to be sent off after pulling Hamis Kiiza’s shirt on the edge of the area.
LIBERIA 0-2 SENEGAL: Newcastle United’s Papiss Cisse beautifully converted two penalties to win the game for the Teranga Lions and they now face Uganda in September in a winner takes all battle. Uganda sit in second one point away from Senegal who they will visit in their final game.
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