16 November 2009

Africa: Continent's Best Soccer Teams Head For World Cup

Cape Town — There's only one slot left to be filled in Africa's line-up at the 2010 Fifa World Cup, to be played in South Africa next June, and it will be taken after what has the makings of an epic playoff between Algeria and Egypt in Sudan on Wednesday.

Egypt came from behind to secure the playoff after entering Saturday's qualifier against Algeria three points behind its fierce rival.

Such was the tension in Cairo ahead of the match that Algeria reported that Egyptian youngsters stoned their team bus near a Cairo hotel. Fifa issued a statement saying it had asked the Egyptian Football Association and the government "to provide written guarantees' there would be extra safety measures.

By beating Algeria 2-0, the second goal scored in stoppage time by Emad Meteab, Egypt drew level with its opponents on points and goal difference. It won the draw for its chosen venue for the playoff in Zurich earlier last week.

So either Algeria or Egypt will join Cameroon and Nigeria, who qualified on Saturday, and Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, who qualified earlier, for the World Cup in South Africa. As the host nation, South Africa automatically gets into the tournament.

Cameroon cruised in to qualify in its match against Morocco at an away game in Fes on Saturday. It will play in the World Cup for the sixth time, a record for an African team.

Cameroon's Achille Webo scored 18 minutes in, and Samuel Eto'o followed up with another goal early in the second half. The home team failed to score.

Nigeria's Super Eagles, the despair of their supporters in recent times, prevailed against Kenya 3-2 in Nairobi, but were helped in Maputo by Mozambique, whose surprise 1-0 win against group leaders Tunisia allowed Nigeria to edge past the North Africans into the slot.

CAF Online reports that except for South Africa, the continent will have its best national teams on display, judged on Fifa's latest rankings: they place Cameroon at 14th in the world, Côte d’Ivoire at 19th, Egypt at 28th, Algeria at 29th and Ghana at 38th. South Africa is 85th in the world and 17th in Africa.

The World Cup qualifiers have also determined which teams will play in the African Cup of Nations in Angola in January.

Going into the weekend, four places had to be filled. They were taken by Togo, Mozambique, Zambia and Malawi. South Africa has not qualified.

The final line-up for Angola is: Algeria, Angola (host), Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt (defending champions), Gabon, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria, Mali, Malawi, Togo, Tunisia, Zambia.

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