African football giants Ghana, Egypt and Morocco have scores to settle in FIFA World Cup™/African Nations Cup qualifiers this weekend.

They were major casualties of a shock-riddled third series of games in the second elimination phase, with Ghana losing 2-0 in Gabon, Egypt 1-0 in Malawi and Morocco 3-1 in Rwanda.

Home advantage is with the trio of heavyweights this time, making them favourites to triumph and get campaigns for places at the FIFA World Cup in South Africa and the Nations Cup in Angola back on track.

Ghana, still searching for a permanent coach after Frenchman Claude le Roy did not renew his contract following a third-place finish at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations, should return to winning ways in the Group 5 Accra encounter.

Tradition certainly suggests so, with Ghana losing just twice in 28 home qualifiers and Gabon winning only twice in 15 away assignments since FIFA World Cup preliminary matches were introduced 48 years ago.

Junior Agogo, reportedly leaving English Championship club Nottingham Forest for Egyptian giants Zamalek, and Laryea Kingston from Scottish outfit Hearts are the Black Stars' danger men, having scored five of six qualifying goals.

Defeat was particularly painful for Nations Cup holders Egypt, as the only goal came three minutes into stoppage time just as another rearguard showing from the North Africans appeared to have secured a point.

But Malawi are about to discover that while facing the Pharaohs in Blantyre is an exercise in patient build-up against masters of packed defence, trying to defeat them in the Egyptian capital is far harder.

Visiting coaches have complained of crowd noise so deafening they cannot give instructions and there are few more intimidating African football cauldrons than the 70,000-seat Cairo Stadium.

Top Group 12 seeds Egypt were hampered in Blantyre by the absence of strikers Emad Moteab and Mohamed Zidan, leaving Nations Cup hero Amr Zaki carrying too heavy a burden up front.

Malawi named former star Kinnah Phiri coach ahead of the qualifiers and after a predictable 8-1 mauling of Djibouti, the Flames lost by a solitary goal in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Then came the dramatic triumph over Egypt, and although they are unlikely to experience much joy on Sunday, the remaining fixtures against Djibouti (away) and DR Congo (home) offer the realistic prospect of six points.

Had a neutral African football follower been asked which three countries would boast 100 percent records at the halfway stage of the second qualifying phase, Rwanda would not have been an obvious choice.

But after a routine Group 8 home win over Mauritania, they snatched a last-minute victory in Ethiopia before outplaying Morocco 3-1 via goals from Olivier Karekezi, Bokota Labama and Said Makasi.

However, a Rwandan double is improbable as the Atlas Lions are unbeaten in 26 home qualifiers since a 2-0 defeat by Cameroon in the final elimination series for the 1982 FIFA World Cup.

Nigeria and Burkina Faso, the other nations with perfect records, are poised to win again as they enjoy home advantage over Equatorial Guinea and Seychelles respectively, opponents they defeated last weekend.

Algeria host Gambia in a key Group 6 clash seeking revenge for a narrow loss in Banjul, where Mustapha Jarjue settled the outcome by converting a first half penalty.

Senegal remain favourites to top the table, and with Liberia seemingly out of the running, having failed to win in three outings, the Algerian Desert Foxes and Gambian Scorpions are battling for second spot.

The 12 group winners and best eight runners-up qualify for the final qualifying phase, where five FIFA World Cup and 15 Nations Cup places will be up for grabs, while hosts South Africa and Angola are guaranteed spots.