European leagues take a break this weekend to allow World Cup qualifying action to continue after almost a month. With only 2 rounds of games left to play, many teams will look to secure a spot in South Africa no later than Sunday.
The African qualifying region cannot get any tougher. With 2 countries already having qualified, Ghana’s Black Stars and South Africa (hosts), the race for the remaining 4 slots is in full gear. Group A which was touted as the group of death, is still wide open with all four teams cameroon, Gabon, Togo and Morocco still in contention for the sole ticket.
However, my bet is on Cameroon qualifying. I feel they have what it takes to give some of the more established sides a run for their money. After failing to qualify for the 2006 event, the Indomitable Lions know very well that any slip ups in Yaounde against Togo’s Eagles could very much jeopardise their chances. Cameroon lead this group with 7 points two ahead of Togo who lie in position 3.
Group B is also open with the two main front runners Tunisia and Nigeria each aiming at representing the continent next year. Tunisia lead this group on 8 points two ahead of Nigeria. On paper, Tunisia’s next tie at home to Kenya should be a walk in the park. After wining the same fixture in Nairobi 2-1, the Carthage Eagles will look to add to the piling misery of Kenyan coach Antoine Hey. The other tie will see Mozambique travelling to Nigeria.
Group C pits neighbouring Algeria and Egypt in the race to finish tops. Currently, Algeria lead the group with 10 points 3 ahead of 2nd placed Egypt. Rwanda travel to Algiers for this all important fixture so as to improve their chances of reaching the African Cup of Nations while Egypt travel to Zambia to take on the Chipolopolo.
Group D has already been decided with Ghana clinching the sole ticket to the finals. The other group members only have pride to play for. Finally, Group E sees the Elephants of Ivory Coast needing at least a draw in Blantyre against Malawi to qualify. The other group game will see Burkina Faso and Guinea battling it out for a slot in Angola. My ideal African representation would have to be Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Ghana, Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa. I hope they all make it through.