Zambia look to stretch their lead

Zambia will look to use home advantage to extend their 100 per cent record in the African qualifiers for the Men's Olympic Football Tournament Beijing 2008 when they host Senegal in Lusaka on Saturday.

They have already seen off two other west African opponents, beating Côte d'Ivoire in June and then winning away in Mali last month.

Saturday's match at the Nkhoma stadium presents Zambia with the chance to build up a healthy lead at the halfway mark of the group stage of the qualifying campaign.

Senegal go into the game with just a single point and will be effectively eliminated if they do not come away with a point from the trip to Lusaka.

Zambia's U-23 team coach Peter Kaumba has managed to persuade his senior colleague Patrick Phiri to allow highly rated winger Clifford Mulenga to play in Lusaka at the weekend.

Mulenga had been earmarked for the senior squad, who play a vital CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away against South Africa in Cape Town on Sunday.

But the U-23 cause looks to be the more realistic option for Zambian football and the service of Mulenga, who played in the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada in June, would be better utilised in the campaign for a trip to China next year.

Also in Group B, the Ivorians will seek a second successive win to keep pressure up on the Zambians.

Côte d'Ivoire host Mali at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan on Sunday with coach Gerard Gili calling up players from a vastly diverse list of clubs. Professionals operating in France, Hungary, Norway Romania, Scotland and Thailand have all been included in his squad.

In Group C, Cameroon and Morocco will dispute the leadership when they meet at the Stade Roumde Adjia in Garoua in the arid north of Cameroon on Sunday.

Morocco currently occupy the section's summit but Cameroon are just two points behind.

In Conakry on Friday, Guinea take on Botswana but their match is overshadowed but the clash between their senior team and the Cape Verde Islands 48 hours later in the Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Botswana striker Moemedi Moatlhaping and Kekaetswe Moloi both miss the trip because of injury.

In Group A, South Africa hosts Ghana in Potchefstroom on Saturday hoping to register their first win of the campaign. After a 1-1 draw with Nigeria at the same venue last month, South Africa's hopes will be all but ended if they fail to beat the Black Meteors.

"Ghana will be just as physical as the Nigerians were, but we are not daunted by the task at hand, we also have a team of very accomplished players who are determined to represent their country at the Olympic games in Beijing next year," said South African Olympic team captain Lance Davids, who plays for Djurgarden in Sweden.

Ethiopia have withdrawn from the group so Nigeria have a bye at the weekend.

The next round of qualifiers will be played on the weekend of 12-14 October.