Egypt, Cameroon get vital wins

Ghana during the 2008 Nations Cup
Ghana’s Black Stars are on the verge of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup

Egypt and Cameroon both won away from home to keep alive their chances of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup.

Cameroon scored two quick goals to beat Gabon 2-0, in what was their first home defeat of the 2010 qualifiers.

African champions Egypt scored in the second half to edge past Rwanda 1-0 in Kigali.

Malawi earned their first points of the final stage of 2010 qualifying with a 2-1 win over visitors Guinea.

On Sunday Ghana could become the first African qualifiers for the World Cup.

The Black Stars need to beat Sudan and for Mali and Benin to draw their game in order for them to book their ticket to South Africa.

Nigeria and Tunisia go head-to-head for the lead in Group B, and Ivory Coast can close to within a point of qualification as winners of Group E.

The five group winners will qualify for the World Cup in South Africa while the top three in each group advance to the Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.

Below is a full round-up of the results so far and a look ahead to the games still to be played.

GROUP A

Cameroon captain Samuel Eto'o
Cameroon’s new captain Samuel Eto’o scored against Gabon

Cameroon scored two goals in two minutes to secure a 2-0 win over Gabon in Libreville.

Achille Emana, who plays for Spanish second division side Real Betis, scored the opening goal after 66 minutes.

Samuel Eto’o, who is the new Indomitable Lions captain, made sure of the win moments later.

The goals were Cameroon’s first in the final stage of qualifying and takes them to four points from three games, two behind Gabon.

The two sides meet again on 9 September in Yaounde.

The game went ahead in Libreville despite a backdrop of post-election violence in some parts of Gabon.

The match was due to have been played in June but was postponed because of the funeral of the late President of Gabon, Omar Bongo.

Morocco go to Lome to play Togo on Sunday knowing they must win to retain a realistic chance of going to the global showpiece.

Togo have four points; Morocco just two, both sides have played three games so far.

GROUP B

There is a top of the table clash in Abuja as Nigeria play host to Tunisia on Sunday.

Nigerian fans
Nigerian fans will be expecting a win when the Super Eagles take on Tunisia

Nigeria are currently two points behind the Carthage Eagles, but striker John Utaka told the BBC’s African sports programme Fast Track that they can overhaul their rivals.

“Playing on our home soil, gives us an opportunity,” he said.

“I strongly believe we will beat them; we are not underestimating anybody, but when you are playing at home you know what the fans of Nigeria are like – they expect you to win.”

The other game in the group is also on Sunday as Mozambique host Kenya in Maputo, with a place at the Nations Cup in Angola next year at stake for these two.

Mozambique’s Dutch coach Mart Nooij is philosophical about his team’s chances.

“In sport, every match is a must-win. It is unpredictable – you never know what the rest of the competition will be,” he told BBC Sport.

“We are bottom of the group. We have to win this match. But if we don’t win, there are still chances for us to qualify.

“Even if we beat Kenya, it will not be a piece of cake to get to Angola because the remaining matches against Nigeria and Tunisia are like taking on the top of the world.

“Maputo and the whole of Mozambique are getting crazy about this match, if the stadium could hold 200,000, it would be full.

“So we are also counting on the national pride and national spirit of Mozambique to lift my guys.

GROUP C

Reigning African champions Egypt got their qualifying campaign back on track with a 1-0 win in Rwanda.

Al Ahly midfielder Ahmed Hassan, who had come on as a substitute, hammered an Ahmed Fathi pass into the net on 68 minutes before a near-capacity crowd at the 35,000-seat Amahoro Stadium in the Rwandan capital.

The win gives Egypt seven points from four matches and takes them level with Algeria for the time being.

Algeria can move three points clear of Egypt if they can beat Zambia in Blida in the final game of the weekend on Sunday evening.

GROUP D

Ghana’s Black Stars will secure a place at their second successive World Cup if they can beat visitors Sudan this weekend, as long as there is also a draw between Benin and Mali in Cotonou.

Ghana reached the 2006 tournament in Germany under Ratomir Dujkovic and another Serb coach, Milovan Rajevac, looks set to repeat the feat.

After labouring to a 1-0 home win over Benin, a Michael Essien-inspired Ghana travelled to Mali and Sudan and returned with impressive 2-0 triumphs.

Another win over Sudan would lift Ghana to a maximum 12 points from four games.

Expectation is high in Ghana and some of the players are less comfortable playing in Accra, rather than their traditional home of Kumasi.

Asamoah Gyan
Asamoah Gyan says the players must stay calm in Accra

Striker Asamoah Gyan came under particular criticism during the Nations Cup in 2008, but he told BBC Fast Track that pressure is something all players have to live with.

“It’s our dream to go to the World Cup – but what matters is the three points on Sunday,” he said.

“Some times you hear criticism from the crowd because they are expecting more from you and maybe they don’t see it.

“People can criticise you but you have to be calm about it.”

Mali have been boosted by the news that Mamadou Samassa has been cleared to play against Benin by football’s world governing body, Fifa.

The 23-year-old Valenciennes player benefits from a recent rule change by Fifa that saw them remove the age limit of 21 for players to swap nationalities.

GROUP E

Malawi came from behind to beat visitors Guinea 2-1 to grab their first points of the final qualifying stage.

Guinea's Oumar Kalabane
Oumar Kalabane’s goal for Guinea was not enough against Malawi

Oumar Kalabane scored for the Syli Nationale in the 37th minute after Malawi failed to deal with a corner.

Malawi coach Kinnah Phirri then made what proved to be an inspired substitution at half time bringing on Chiukepo Msowoya to replace David Banda.

With virtually his first touch of the ball Msowoya equalised for the Flames just two minutes into the second half as his low, hard shot beat Kemoko Camara in the Guinea goal.

Msowoya, who plays his club in Mozambique, then headed home the winner from an in-swinging corner from Joseph Kamwendo in the 58th minute.

Malawi captain Peter Mponda was happy with the win.

“This is an exciting win as it shows we are still in contention for Angola,” he said.

Ivory Coast are on the verge of a place in South Africa 2010, although they cannot seal it this weekend.

But they will move within a point of qualification if they defeat closest challengers Burkina Faso in Abidjan on Saturday.

The Elephants have been hit by the late withdrawal of Bakary Kone and Ndri Romaric, who have both picked up injuries.

But striker Salomon Kalou is confident.

“We have a great opportunity, we have great players, a great team and great spirit,” he said.

“We have a lot of great names but have still not won a prize – now we have a chance to rectify that.”

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