Ethiopia won 2-1 in Botswana Saturday to stay two points ahead of fancied South Africa in a thrilling Group A race for FIFA World Cup™ survival. A couple of first-half goals for leading scorers Getaneh Kebede and Saladin Ahmed put bottom seeds Ethiopia in control before Tebogo Sembowa pulled one back in Lobatse.
South Africa triumphed 3-0 over Central African Republic in a clash of injury depleted sides in Yaounde, with the match moved to Cameroon because Bangui was considered unsafe. Bernard Parker and Siphiwe Tshabalala scored during the opening half on an artificial surface and leading South African 2012/13 league scorer Katlego Mashego added a third during stoppage time.
But Bafana Bafana celebrations of a rare competitive win on the road were diluted by the Ethiopian result, and the sides meet on 16 June in a potential group decider in Addis Ababa. Ethiopia have ten points and South Africa eight with two rounds left, and a win for the home side next weekend would give them an unassailable advantage over the three-time FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The ten African group winners will be paired off for the final stage during October and November with the winners of the five home-and-away ties qualifying for Brazil 2014. While South Africa are finding the going tough in a group they were expected to dominate, fellow top seeds Tunisia, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Congo Brazzaville moved closer to topping other pools.
Tunisia snatch point
Fakhreddine Ben Youssef equalised in the final minute as Tunisia snatched a 2-2 draw away to Sierra Leone and robbed new home coach Johnny McKinstry of a dream debut. McKinstry, a 27-year-old from Northern Ireland, was named coach when Swede Lars Mattsson quit after a narrow loss in Tunisia three months ago.
Plucked from academy work in Freetown having never coached a club or national team, McKinstry watched the Leone Stars lead in each half through Kaiansu Kamara and Alhassan Kamara. But four-time FIFA World Cup qualifiers Tunisia levelled through Oussama Darragi, from a penalty, and Ben Youssef to retain a five-point Group B advantage over Sierra Leone.
Côte d'Ivoire got the second spell of Peter Johnson as Gambia coach off to a miserable start by winning 3-0 in Bakau through goals from Lacina Traore, Wilfried Bony and reigning African Footballer of the Year Yaya Toure. While Morocco beat ten-man Tanzania 2-1, seeing The Elephants extend their lead over the beaten side to four points.
Newcastle United striker Papiss Cisse put Senegal ahead during the opening half against Angola in Luanda and Afonso Guilherme forced a 1-1 draw via an early second-half equaliser. Senegal top Group J with six points, Uganda have five after an early Tonny Mawejje goal secured a 1-0 home victory over Liberia, who are on four points with Angola.
Congo forced a 0-0 draw with Gabon in Franceville to stay six points ahead in Group E and 2013 CAF Africa Cup of Nations runners-up Burkina Faso must win in Niger tomorrow to have a realistic chance of overtaking the 'Red Devils'.
Zambia regained the Group D lead by one point from Ghana after whipping lowly Lesotho 4-0 in Ndola with Jacob Mulenga bagging a brace and captain Christopher Katongo and Collins Mbesuma one each. However, wins for Ghana away to Lesotho next weekend and at home to Zambia during September will take them through at the expense of the 2012 Cup of Nations champions.