30 May 2014

Africa: Dicey Duels Headline Next Round Mission


This weekend is laden with high level matches in the Orange Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2015 first round second leg matches of the qualifiers where only the toughest shall proceed to the second round of matches. Halve the 26 teams will seek to join Seychelles at the next round. Cafonline.com looks at a round-up of the matches with all teams desperate to do well and avoid the bitter pill of falling out in the first stage.

Lesotho vs Liberia (0-1)

Liberia's produced the only African World player of the year in 1995 in George Oppong Weah and will be looking to erase a 12-year absence at the showpiece event. The Lone Stars will seek to consolidate their 1-0 advantage over the Likuena of Lesotho. The Southern Africans have proven to be no pushovers despite never qualifying for the final tournament.

Comoros vs Kenya (0-1)

Comoros referred to as the proverbial "David" is ranked a worrying 184th in the latest Fifa rankings and have yet to appear at the biggest stage of African football since their affiliation to the continental soccer governing body in 2003. Tagged often as underdogs, to limit a Kenyan team rated 82 places above them to a narrow 1-0 loss in Nairobi, sends a clear warning that it was indeed more than business as usual. Kenya needs at least a draw while Comoros must score at least two unanswered goals to go past the Harambee Stars.

Zimbabwe vs Tanzania (0-1)

The two sides have met four times since 2009 and their head-to-head statistics counts as two draws and a win each for either side. However Tanzania have one foot in the second round courtesy the 1-0 win in Dar es Salaam, Zimbabwe are sure to start the game like a house on fire to overturn the tables.

Tanzanian coach Mart Nooj will be in charge of only his second game since taking over Taifa Stars, just as his Zimbabwean counterpart, Ian Gorowa will be looking to prove why he is the man fit for the job by ensuring he gets a win at home because nothing short of a 2-0 win which will guarantee him a spot at the next round.

Rwanda vs Libya (0-0)

Rwanda has definitely the toughest assignment when they face Libya who recently crowned winners of the Orange African Nations Championship (CHAN) South Africa 2014, guided by the technical expertise of veteran Spaniard, Javier Clemente.

The winner of the tie will set up a mouth-watering clash with the winner of Namibia/Congo where the winner will join the likes of African champions, Nigeria, South Africa and Sudan at the group phase.

South Sudan vs Mozambique (0-5)

Debutants South Sudan's hopes of qualifying were dashed after a five-star performance by Mozambique who showed no mercy in the 5-0 first leg drubbing that almost certainly ensured their place in the second round.

The huge Victory for Mozambique has been heralded by pundits as a precursor to their intentions to qualify for the 30th edition of the biennial tourney in Morocco. The men to continue with the job will be hit men Josimar Machaisse, Edson Sitoe, Apson Manjate and Isaac Carvalho who were instrumental in the win.

Botswana vs Burundi (0-0)

Botswana, who last qualified for the Afcon in 2012 have set their eyes on upsetting Burundi, yet to set foot on the 'promise land' only coming close in 1994 when they lost out to Guinea in the play-offs .

The Zebras will be banking on key figures such as Kabelo Dambe (Platinum Stars),Joel Mogorosi (Bloemfontein Celtic) and Supersport United's Mogogi Gabonamong .

German-born coach of Burundi, Wilfried Rainer has his work cut out for him eyeing a crucial away goal in Gaborone, hoping that in-form striker Amisi Tambwe and Faty Papy rise up to the occasion.

Guinea Bissau vs Central African Republic (0-0)

Guinea Bissau will be looking to improve on their record of two draws and three losses in their past five games and the 0-0 draw against CAR in the first leg acted as a morale boaster to a nation that has never qualified for the African cup of Nations.

On the other hand, Central Africa republic have had a torrid time after a political unrest have deprived them the luxury of playing at home, forcing them to play in Congo. However, the Djurtus are hoping to rewrite their own piece of history by easing past their guests into the penultimate round of the qualifying phase.

Benin vs Sao Tome e Principe (2-0)

Benin have one foot in the second round of Afcon 2015 qualifiers after securing a 2-0 away in Sao Tome. Stéphane Sessègnon's brace did all the damage and the West Bromwich Albion player who is in red-hot form will be looking to push his country past Sao Tome in what pundits have predicted as a sealed match considering their sublime form .

Sierra Leone vs Swaziland (1-1 Aggregate)

Despite poor preparations towards the game where the team was assembled barely 24-hours to the previous meeting, the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone managed to a vital 1-1 draw.

The West Africans will be hoping to complete the job in Freetown to grab one of the spots for the next round. Meanwhile, Sihlangu as the Swazis are nicknamed are expected to present a full strength squad locally based dominated squad drawn from mainly the two top clubs, Mbabane Swallows and Royal Leopard.

Chad vs Malawi (0-2)

Malawi travel to Chad this weekend knowing a draw will ensure coach Young Chimodzi's men through to the next round, for a dare with either Sao Tome and Principe or Benin.

South African based Frank "Garbadinho" Mhango will look to add to his goal tally in the qualifiers after hitting a brace against Chad in the first leg in Blantyre.

The flames who have looked impressive ensured coach Young Chimodzi got his first win in a competitive game after 0-0 draw against Tanzania and a 4-1 loss to Zimbabwe since he took over the reins coaching the flames.

However, Les Sao will be counting on their teeming fans to douse the Flames and march on in the competition.

Congo vs Namibia (0-1)

A 90th minute goal from Rudolph Bester gave in the first leg gave Namibia a 1-0 win over Congo in the first leg. The slim scoreline is a cause of worry for Brave Warriors coach Ricardo Manetti who envisages an all-out attack by Congo in their backyard.

Namibia last appeared at the AFCON tournament in 2008 and their attempt to qualify for the most recent edition (2013 in South Africa) ended in a 1-0 aggregate defeat at the hands of Liberia at the preliminary round.

On the other hand Congo has not appeared at the African Cup of Nations since 2000 and will now have to overcome a one goal deficit to reach the next stage.

Equatorial Guinea vs Mauritania (0-1)

Since their roller-coaster performance as co- hosts of the 2012 Orange Africa Cup of Nations with Gabon, that saw them advance to the quarters, Equatorial Guinea have been blowing hot and cold and the first leg 1-0 loss to Mauritania away from home added misery on them as they look to overturn the result in Malabo.

Nzalang Nacional need nothing short of a 2-0 win to be sure of a second round place, while the Mauritanians look to solidify their home win with another sublime performance away from home.

Uganda vs Madagascar (1-2)

The Cranes of Uganda will have to overcome a one goal deficit if they are to make it to the next round. The Cranes journey back to the Africa Nations Cup finals for the first time since 1978 got underway with mixed results as they fell to lowly ranked Madagascar in the first leg, but their coach Serbian Milutin 'Micho' Sredojevic is upbeat his charges are capable of beating the islanders in Kampala.

Meanwhile, Madagascar coch Auguste Raux has included 12-foreign based players to try and consolidate the first leg home win in a tricky encounter that will see all sides firing from all cylinders as they look for an upset.


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