The final seven places up for grabs in the final stage of African qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ have been decided. And now the continent's ten remaining teams are just two matches away from appearing at the showpiece event of world football.
Burkina Faso and Cape Verde Islands are among the teams who advanced on the weekend as they leap-frogged Congo and Tunisia respectively on the final matchday. Other tight races saw Ethiopia hold the top spot in Group A to deny South Africa, while Senegal beat Uganda 1-0 to advance in Group J.
The ten teams in the third round will be drawn into five ties, with the winners of the two-legged play-offs qualifying for Brazil 2014. FIFA.com looks back on Africa's wild weekend of qualifying action.
Match of the dayTunisia 0-2 Cape Verde Islands
Goals: Platini (28), Heldon Nhuck Ramos (42)
Although Cape Verde Islands are ranked higher than the Carthage Eagles in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, only die-hard Blue Sharks fans believed that their team could deny the North Africans a place in the next round. Playing their Group B game at home in Rades, Tunisia were on 11 points - two more than their visitors - and needed just a draw to stay in the hunt for a place in Brazil. However, Tunisian coach Nabil Maaloul suffered a set-back early on as he had to replace Esperance midfielder Mejdi Traoui with Fertani Sassi after just ten minutes. Worse was to follow as Cyprus-based Platini and Nhuck, who plays his club football for Maritimo, gave Cape Verde a 2-0 half-time lead. Maaloul brought on Sami Allagui and Zouheir Dhaouadi in the second half, but the substitutes could do nothing to change the outcome of the match, allowing Cape Verde a famous victory that keeps their good run going after a first-ever spot in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year saw them advance to the quarter-finals.
ElsewhereAfter being stripped of the points for their victory in Botswana, Ethiopia found themselves in a must-win situation against the Central African Republic in Brazzaville in Group A. The Walya Antelopes were a goal down at the break after Salif Keita had given the CAR the lead, but Salahdin Ahmed levelled matters just three minutes after the restart and Menyahel Teshome found the winner on the hour to put the Ethiopians as close to the FIFA World Cup finals as they have ever been.
Finals mainstays Nigeria needed only a draw in their final match at home against Malawi, while the Flames had to win if they wanted to advance to the play-offs. Emmanuel Emenike gave the Super Eagles the lead in first-half injury time and Victor Moses converted a penalty shortly after the break after Malawi captain James Sangala fouled Nnamdi Oduamadi in the area. Any hopes of a dramatic come-back were scuppered just three minutes later when Limbikani Mzava was sent off for a second bookable offence. The 2-0 win sees Nigeria top of Group F with 12 points, five better than Malawi.
Fellow west African giants Ghana secured a hard-fought 2-1 win against Zambia to deny the 2012 African champions a place in the play-offs, with Majeed Waris and Kwadwo Asamoah scoring the goals for the Black Stars. The 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cup veterans topped Group D with 15 points while the *Chipolopolo *finished with 11.
In Marrakesh, Red Bull Salzburg's striker Sadio Mane scored the winning goal for Senegal in the 84th minute against Uganda to ensure first place in Group J for the Lions of Teranga. The Cranes, who needed to win to top the group, spent the entire second half playing a man down after defender Godfrey Walusimbi was sent off for a challenge with studs showing.
Cameroon won Group I through Aurelien Chedjou's goal that gave the Indomitable Lions a 1-0 win against Libya, who would have advanced with a victory. Substitute Omar Abdelsalam came agonisingly close to scoring the equalizer for the North Africans in the last minute but his header from close range was well-saved by goalkeeper Charles Itandje.
Didier Drogba's late penalty secured a 1-1 draw for Côte d'Ivoire against Morocco, who were already through ahead of the Group C game, while the two final matches, featuring the already qualified Egypt and Algeria, will be played on Tuesday.
Player of the dayPrejuce Nakoulma *
After their two opening matches in the group phase, Burkina Faso were bottom of Group E with zero points, six behind leaders Congo. Going into their final game, the Stallions were still a point behind the *Diables Rouges and faced a tricky home match against Gabon, who were also still in the race. With the encounter in Ouagadougou evenly poised, Poland-based Nakoulma, who was linked with a move from Gornik Sabrze to Portuguese giants Porto during the transfer window, stepped up shortly after the break to find the all-important goal that gave the home side the 1-0 win. As Congo managed only a 2-2 draw in Niger, Nakoulma's strike gave the 2013 AFCON runners-up a place in the play-offs.
The stat 9 –The number of points Congo picked up from their first three games in the qualifying campaign. They added just two more from their next three matches and missed out on a place in the play-offs as a result.
What they said
"It was very pleasing how we played, but it is bittersweet as Ethiopia is going though," South African midfielder Dean Furman after Bafana Bafana beat Botswana 4-1, but still went out as Ethiopia won their final game.
*6 September *
Ghana 2-1 Zambia
*7 September *
South Africa 4-1 Botswana
Central African Republic 1-2 Ethiopia
Sierra Leone 3-2 Equatorial Guinea
Tunisia 0-2 Cape Verde Islands
Gambia 2-0 Tanzania
Côte d'Ivoire 1-1 Morocco
Burkina Faso 1-0 Gabon
Niger 2-2 Congo
Nigeria 2-0 Malawi
Angola 4-1 Liberia
Senegal 1-0 Uganda
8 September 2013
Sudan 2-3 Lesotho
Kenya 1-0 Namibia
Zimbabwe 1-1 Mozambique
Benin 2-0 Rwanda
Cameroon 1-0 Libya
Togo 2-1 Congo DR
Egypt - Guinea
Algeria - Mali