Africa Cup of Nations round-up
Zambia, Ghana, Mali and Nigeria are among the first teams to qualify from a dramatic weekend of 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Malawi 0-1 Ghana (Agg: 0-3)
Ghana became the first team to qualify for the finals, progressing comfortably with a 1-0 victory in Lilongwe giving them a 3-0 win on aggregate.
Afriyie Acquah fired home the winner for the Black Stars after just three minutes, from a corner.
The four-time Nations Cup winners put in an effecient display, with the only scare coming when star striker Asamoah Gyan hit the floor in the second half dramatically, but he appeared to shake off the knock afterwards.
Malawi had their chances, but the hosts could not find a way back into the tie after conceding the early goal.
Botswana 1-4 Mali (Agg: 1-7)
Mali booked their place in the finals, with a convincing 4-1 away win over Botswana giving them a resounding 7-1 aggregate victory.
Goals from Cheikh Tidiane Diabate, Modibo Maiga, Mahamadou Samassa and Abdou Traore secured an eight continental finals appearance for the Eagles.
The match marked the re-opening of the reburbished stadium in Lobatse but there was little for the Botswana fans to celebrate until a consolation goal in stoppage time at the end of the game from Mmusa Ohilwe.
Mali progress to South Africa hoping to improve upon a third-place finish in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Uganda 1-0 Zambia (Agg: 1-1)
Zambia win 9-8 on penalties.
Reigning African champions Zambia scraped through to South Africa after a dramatic penalty shoot-out.
Uganda were left heartbroken after dominating the game but failing to complete the task when Patrick Ochan missed the decisive spot-kick in sudden death.
Geoffrey Massa scored for Uganda on 27 minutes to level the aggregate score and the Cranes dictated the play with Tony Mawejje, Hassan Wasswa and Joseph Kizito all in impressive form.
But Uganda could not find a way through for a winner as Zambia keeper Kennedy Mweene produced a series of saves to keep his side in the tie.
The match went straight to penalties after 90 minutes and the omens looked good for Uganda when Zambia captain Chris Katongo missed the first kick.
But Uganda missed their second effort and penalties went into sudden death. And it was the unfortuante Ochan who missed his kick, ending Uganda’s hopes of reaching the finals for the first time sicen 1978.
Nigeria 6-1 Liberia (Agg: 8-3)
Nigeria were held by Liberia in the opening leg but they made light work of brushing aside the Lone Stars to qualify for next years final in South Africa.
Efe Ambrose struck in the first minute to set the Super Eagles on their way and Ahmed Musa doubled his side’s lead before the break after latching on to Emmanuel Emenike’s pass.
Three of the goals came from players at English Premier Leaguse side Chelsea, with Victor Moses scoring twice and Jon Obi Mikel also on the scoresheet after he struck from the penalty spot.
Ike Uche also found the scoresheet for Stephen Keshi’s team, while Patrick Wleh scored a consolation for the away side, who had captain Gebro Duncan sent off.
Tunisia v Sierra Leone
- Monastir, 1815 GMT kick-off
- First leg score: 2-2
The hosts will be hoping their Esperance stars have fully recovered from the club’s 19,000 kilometre round trip to DR Congo-based side TP Mazembe for an African Champions League tie.
A fully fit Tunisia squad could be considered slight favourites to go through given their home advantage and their two away goals.
Sierra Leone coach Lars Olof Mattsson is hoping to have AC Milan midfielder Rodney Strasser available after taking a gamble in including the injured player in his squad. Strasser has yet to play this season because of an ankle injury.
Moldova-based Abu Tommy is on standby as a replacement, but he is also continuing a recovery from injury and may not be fit in time.
Senegal v Ivory Coast
- Senegal, 1830 GMT kick-off
- First leg score: 2-4
English Premier League side Newcastle have three of their players taking part in this fixture, with strikers Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba lining up for Senegal and midfield enforcer Cheick Tiote in the Ivory Coast side.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew believes it is too tight to predict a winner and hinted that he expects there to be plenty of goals once again.
“It’s an interesting fixture, poised actually, and I think it’ll be hard to hold on to a two-goal lead but we’ll see,” he told BBC Sport.
Certainly Senegal have the firepower to worry the Ivorians, with both Cisse and Ba in excellent form this season. But their chances of clawing their way back into the tie could rest on whether they can keep out another of Africa’s finest strikers – Didier Drogba.
The ex-Chelsea man, who now plays in China, recognises this could be his last chance to win the Nations Cup – a prize that has eluded him in a glittering career.
“For me and my team-mates, it would be a great trophy to have, a just reward for the last 10 years when we’ve worked so hard and tried to carry the country,” he said.
Morocco v Mozambique
- Marrakech, 2000 GMT kick-off
- First leg score: 0-2
A new-look Morocco will aim to overturn a two-goal deficit under the leadership of new coach Rachid Taoussi, who took over the reins after Belgian coach Eric Gerets was sacked following the first-leg defeat.
Taoussi has dropped the likes of Marouane Chamakh, Mbark Boussoufa and Adel Taarabt, and will largely place his faith in home-based players. However, he has brought in Getafe’s Abdel Barrada and Liverpool’s Oussama Assaidi.
Mozambique will fancy their chances after shaking off their underdog status to capitalise on home advantage.
They secured a shock victory with late goals from former Platinum Stars defender Almiro Lobo and Mamelodi Sundowns forward Elias Pelembe.
And the same squad will get the chance to finish off the job as coach Gert Josef Arthur Engels has made no alterations to his personnel.