At least half of the groups in the African qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ will go down to the final set of matches in September, as some of the favourites still have work to do if they want to remain on course for a place at the global finals. Only the ten group winners advance to the third round of preliminaries, and the draw for the final round of home-and-away matches will be made in Cairo on 16 September.
Match of the day
Mozambique 0-1 Egypt
Goals: Mohamed Salah (40)
In the Mozambican capital of Maputo, Egypt continued their good run of results as they won 1-0. And like he had been against Zimbabwe, Mohamed Salah was again the match-winner. After scoring a hat-trick the week before, the Basel winger took his tally from 22 internationals to 14 goals in the 40th minute. He also shares the lead in the list of the goalscorers from the qualifiers with Algerian Islam Slimani, with both scoring five times. The win gives the Pharaohs - whose last appearance at the FIFA World Cup was in 1990 - an unassailable five-point lead in Group G over Guinea, who beat Zimbabwe.
Côte d'Ivoire became the first country to qualify for the play-offs early on Sunday with a 4-2 victory in Tanzania that took them to 13 points in Group C, giving them a five-point lead over Morocco, who beat Gambia 2-0. Amri Kiemba gave the Taifa Stars the lead in the second minute, but Lacina Traore, Wilfried Bony and two Yaya Toure goals turned things around for the Elephants. In Group E, Congo dramatically fell to a 1-0 defeat at home against Burkina Faso courtesy of an Aristide Bance strike in the first half, which means the Stallions move to within a point of the Red Devils, who play at Niger next. Even Gabon, who beat Niger 4-1 and travel to Burkina Faso in September, still have an outside chance of finishing top of the group.
Tunisia secured advancement from Group B after drawing 1-1 in Equatorial Guinea to open up a five-point lead at the top of the table from Cape Verde, for whom Heldon scored the only goal of the match against Sierra Leone. Zambia's hopes of topping Group D suffered a set-back as they were held to a 1-1 draw at home by Sudan. As Ghana won 2-0 in Lesotho, Zambia now have to win their final game in Ghana to advance, and coach Herve Renard was disappointed with the result: "We do not have any excuse. We failed when we drew 1-1."
Algeria, who in 2010 were the only North African team at the finals, are also assured of winning Group H. The Fennec Foxes won 1-0 in Rwanda and then benefited from Mali's surprise 2-2 draw at home against Benin to lead the group by four points. Group I will be decided in the last game, with Libya, who beat Togo 2-0, needing only a point in Cameroon. The Indomitable Lions drew 0-0 in Congo DR and are two points behind Libya. In Group J, the final game between Senegal and Uganda will also decide which team goes through. Senegal won 2-0 in Liberia to move to nine points, while Uganda came from behind to beat Angola and are on eight points.
In Addis Abeba, Bernhard Parker was both hero and villain for Bafana Bafana as he opened the scoring for his side with a wonderful volley in the first half but then headed into his own net in the second to give Ethiopia a 2-1 win that kept them at the top of Group A, although news emerged Sunday evening that the Ethiopians allegedly fielded an ineligible player in the match between Botswana and Ethiopia a week earlier. South Africa coach Gordon Igesund was full of praise for the Antelopes. “I need to congratulate Ethiopia. It was a tough game today and the crowd was magnificent.” In the section's other match, although both Botswana and the Central African Republic had already been eliminated from the competition, fans were treated to a thrilling game in which both sides showed an eagerness to win. The Zebras twice had to come from behind and a late Ofentse Nato gave the home side a 3-2 win.
Player of the day
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (GAB)
The son of a former Gabonese international, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made the most of father's day, scoring a hat-trick of penalties for the Panthers as they beat Niger 4-1 to keep their hopes of making the play-offs alive. The 23-year-old, who is a target for several large European clubs, showed that he has nerves as steel as he converted two late spot kicks to add to the one he scored just before the break in a match where three players were sent off.
5 – The number of games that Egypt have won in the qualifiers. Bob Bradley's team are the only side to have a 100 per cent record in the group stage.
What they said
Milutin Sredojevic, whose Uganda team got two late goals to beat Angola: “We played a very good first half and should have taken our chances earlier. We need to work harder to have a strong team ahead of the away game against Senegal in September."
Malawi 2-2 Kenya
Namibia 1-1 Nigeria
Libya 2-0 Togo
Botswana 3-2 Central African Republic
Morocco 2-0 Gambia
Zambia 1-1 Sudan
Congo 0-1 Burkina Faso
Gabon 4-1 Niger
Uganda 2-1 Angola
Cape Verde Islands 1-0 Sierra Leone
Ethiopia 2-1 South Africa
Tanzania 2-4 Côte d'Ivoire
Lesotho 0-2 Ghana
Mozambique 0-1 Egypt
Guinea 1-0 Zimbabwe
Rwanda 0-1 Algeria
Congo DR 0-0 Cameroon
Mali 2-2 Benin
Equatorial Guinea 1-1 Tunisia
Liberia 0-2 Senegal