Algeria join Sudan in quarter-finals
© Foto-net

Algeria joined Sudan in the CAF African Nations Championship quarter-finals Saturday after finishing runners-up in Group A through a 0-0 draw with the host nation.

Sudan were assured of a last-eight berth after solitary-goal victories against Gabon and Uganda and the draw secured first place on the table with seven points followed by Algeria on five, Gabon with four and Uganda without a point. Jerry Pitty Djoue scored twice in the second half to earn Gabon a 2-1 victory over Uganda in a match played at the same time with Juma Ibrahim grabbing a consolation goal two minutes from full-time.

Hosting a Pan-African football tournament for the first time since winning the 1970 Africa Cup of Nations, Sudan will move across the river Nile from Khartoum to Omdurman for a clash with the Group B runners-up next Friday. Algeria must travel 200 kilometres south of capital city Khartoum to regional centre Wad Medani for a showdown with the Group B table-toppers, probably South Africa, the same day.

The outcome of the initial mini-league to be completed in the second edition of a biennial championshp for home-based footballers was predictable with home advantage in sauna-like conditions giving Sudan a distinct edge.

Algeria appeared the best of the rest as coach Abdelhak Benchika picked a 23-strong squad that included several stars from 2010 CAF Champions League semi-finalists JS Kabylie.

Gabon recovered well from a loss to Sudan by holding Algeria despite having a player red carded before half-time, but their hopes of progressing hinged on a handsome win over Uganda and Algeria losing to the hosts.

Scotland-born coach Bobby Williamson said Uganda were crippled by the loss of many of the squad who helped the 'Cranes' qualify, with good performances attracting the attention of clubs in other African countries and Europe.

South Africa, shock leaders of a Group B expected to be dominated by 2009 runners-up Ghana, moved from their Wad Medani base to face neighbours Zimbabwe on Sunday in Omdurman. Composed largely of third-tier league footballers because top clubs refused to release stars, the South Africans would have to lose their final pool fixture by at least four goals to be in danger of missing the cut.

Even that unlikely scenario would not be fatal for South Africa unless Niger complete a miserable tournament for the Ghanaians and collect maximum points, in which case they and Zimbabwe would advance.