With just two rounds of group stage action in Africa’s qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ remaining, no team has yet secured a place in the final round. Congo, Tunisia and Egypt, who each might have clinched advancement this matchday but fell short, remain well on course and are looking to finalize things in the next round of games, which happens this week. Only the ten group winners advance to the third round, where they will be drawn into five ties, with the winners of the two-legged play-offs qualifying for Brazil.
Match of the day
Sierra Leone 2-2 Tunisia
Goals: Kaiansu Kamara (39), Alhassan Kamara (72); Oussama Darragi (55 PEN), Fakhreddine Ben Youssef (90)
With two relatively new coaches at the helm, it was 27-year-old Irishman Johnny McKinstry who came agonizingly close to winning his first competitive game in charge of a national team as Sierra Leone outplayed Tunisia in their Group B encounter. After missing several opportunities to go ahead, Kaiansu Kamara brought hope to the supporters at Freetown’s National Stadium by half-time. Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul responded by bringing on Sameh Derbaly and Oussama Darragi for the second half and the changes made an impact as the Carthage Eagles upped the tempo. Darragi’s penalty put the emphasis back on the home side, and Alhassan Kamara thought he had given the Leone Stars the win before Fakhreddine Ben Youssef snatched a dramatic equaliser to keep Tunisia top of the group by five points and looking secure to advance.
Surprisingly, Ethiopia remain the team to overtake in Group A after winning their match in Botswana 2-1 to stay two points clear of South Africa, who won 3-0 against the Central African Republic. Captain and goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune said after the match – played in Cameroon for security reasons – that Bafana Bafana remain focused and on track. "The approach to the game was positive and that is why we came out tops. I am positive we can complete this mission [of finishing top of the group]."
Libya hit the summit of a wide-open Group I despite being held to a goalless draw by Congo DR in their first competitive match at home since 2011. The point was enough to climb above Cameroon whose new coach Volker Finke began his career with the Lions suffering through a disheartening 2-0 defeat to Togo in Lome. Just two points now separate the four teams in that section.
Group J, likewise, remains evenly poised as all four teams can still advance. Senegal top the group with six points after drawing 1-1 in Angola, giving the Palancas Negras their fourth stalemate in four matches. Uganda, for whom Tony Mawejje scored the only goal of the game against Liberia are second on five points, while Liberia are on four. Trying to reach their third FIFA World Cup finals on the trot, Côte d'Ivoire took a giant step toward the next round with a 3-0 win in Gambia with goals by Lacina Traore, Wilfried Bony and Yaya Toure. Tanzania's 2-1 defeat in Morocco leaves the Elephants four points clear of the Taifa Stars and five in front of the Moroccans.
Egypt's Mohamed Salah scored a superb hat-trick and Mohamed Aboutrika got the other in a 4-2 victory over Zimbabwe. The three points would have been enough for the Pharaohs to win the group had Guinea not beaten up Mozambique 6-1 in a later game. As it is, Egypt have a five-point lead in Group G and remain in the driving seat. Congo, who drew 0-0 in Gabon, also control their destiny in Group E. They are on ten points, four ahead of recent African runners’ up Burkina Faso, who travel to Pointe Noire for a showdown between the two next week. Algeria took the upper hand in Group H after they beat Benin 3-1 and Mali struggled to a surprise 1-1 draw in Bamako against Rwanda.
Player of the day
Asamoah Gyan (GHA)
Faced with a tricky must-win match in Sudan to keep pace with Zambia in Group D, Ghana’s star striker came up huge. Not only did he give the Black Stars the lead, but he scored another goal to put them ahead after Ghana had been reduced to ten men and given up an equaliser - both around the half-hour mark. The 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup veterans went on to win 3-1, and they remain a point behind the Chipolopolo. Although Gyan is only 27, his two strikes took him to 34 international goals, which puts him in front of the legendary Abedi Pele as the Black Stars' all-time top scorer.
14 – The number of goals scored by Ghana in their four matches, which have all come in three contests having lost in Zambia 1-0.
What they said
"The players showed a lot of determination. We had to believe in ourselves, and I told them don’t disappoint your fans," Zambian coach Herve Renard after his side struggled in the first half before running away with a 4-0 win over Lesotho.
Kenya 0-1 Nigeria
Malawi 0-0 Namibia
Sudan 1-3 Ghana
Libya 0-0 Congo DR
Botswana 1-2 Ethiopia
Central African Republic 0-3 South Africa
Sierra Leone 2-2 Tunisia
Cape Verde Islands 2-1 Equatorial Guinea
Gambia 0-3 Côte d'Ivoire
Morocco 2-1 Tanzania
Zambia 4-0 Lesotho
Gabon 0-0 Congo
Uganda 1-0 Liberia
Angola 1-1 Senegal
Niger 0-1 Burkina Faso
Zimbabwe 2-4 Egypt
Guinea 6-1 Mozambique
Benin 1-3 Algeria
Mali 1-1 Rwanda
Togo 2-0 Cameroon