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African World Cup play-offs: Round up

November 19, 2013 10:41 PM
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Which African nations will be playing at the World Cup finals in Brazil next summer?

With the second legs of the World Cup play-offs for the African teams now complete let's take a closer look at who will be appearing at next summer's World Cup in Brazil.

Nigeria booked their ticket to Brazil with an assured 2-0 win over Ethiopia, which gave them a 4-1 victory on aggregate.

The Super Eagles took a 2-1 victory with them to the Abuja Stadium and were very much the stronger side for the opening minutes of the game, however, chances were few and far between.

Despite this it didn't take too long until Nigeria netted; Ethiopia's Aynalem Hailu handled the ball inside the penalty area, allowing Chelsea's Victor Moses to calmly dispatch the ball into the bottom corner.

That goal seemed to have placed the nail in the coffin for the Ethiopians as Nigeria continued to create chances, they could have added to their tally if it wasn't for the man between the sticks, Sisay Bancha, who pulled off some fine saves. After the break, Nigeria seemed to take a break as they sat back happily in possession and allowed the minutes to tick down.

The final goal of the game came from another set piece as a free kick, within the final 10 minutes, was blasted into the back of the net by Nigeria's forward Victor Obinna. The Super Eagles certainly deserved the win, and will now be concentrating on looking to make it through the group stages at next year's finals; a feat they haven't achieved since 1998.

A late equaliser from Salomon Kalou ensured an out-played Ivory Coast would be heading to their third consecutive World Cup finals. The Elephants took a sound 3-1 victory with them into the decisive second leg; a tie which turned out to be a match of missed chances.

The opening minutes were very much end to end football, with Newcastle's Papiss Cisse's missed chance at one end being countered with a spectacular slalom run by Gervinho through Senegal's half, which nearly saw him walk the ball into the back of the net.

The first half continued to provide near misses, as Dame N’Doye’s precision header was cleared off the line by an acrobatic Didier Drogba, and Kalou, who would later be celebrating, failed to turn Gervinho's cross into the net as it was drilled across the face of goal.

The Lions of Teranga continued to force the issue throughout the second period until they were finally given a lifeline by referee Djamel Hamoudi, who awarded them a penalty after Drogba pulled Salif Sane to ground from behind. Substitute attacker Moussa Sow stepped up to do the business and made no mistake from 12 yards.

Now needing only a single goal to punch their ticket to Brazil, Senegal piled on the pressure in the closing minutes, but catching them on the break deep into stoppage time, Kalou found the back of the net and sealed the vital, but somewhat undeserved result for the Ivory Coast. The Lions of Teranga will be pleased they gave the Ivory Coast a run for their money, however, the Elephants should count their lucky stars and look to build on their performance at the last World Cup in South Africa.

The second leg was nothing like the previous tie between these two sides as Cameroon stepped up to the plate and delivered a convincing performance.

Tunisia, who did very well to keep a Cameroonian side with great fire power at bay in the first leg, were certainly walked over in this second leg tie as they were outplayed in almost every single area of the pitch.

A goal within five minutes from Pierre Webo set the tone for the rest of the game as the lead was doubled by Benjamin Moudandjo before the half time break. Jean Makoun's headed third, in the 65th minute, cancelled out the ray of hope Tunisia had through Ahmed Akaichi's strike just into the second period. Makoun netted his second of the night after Eric Choupo-Moting's 18-yard shot cannoned off the post and allowed the forward to tap home.

The Indomitable Lions have certainly shown what they hold in their locker, and will definitely want to equal, if not better the performance they showed in South Africa.

Egypt certainly didn't go down without a fight, as they defeated a Ghanan side who already had their minds in Brazil, however, the task to overhaul a 6-1 first leg scoreline in 90 minutes proved to be too much for a side who entered the play-offs with a 100 percent record in qualifying.

A strike within 10 minutes by Amr Zaki would have definitely sparked belief within the Egyptians of a famous turn around. Egypt nearly had a chance to double their lead in the 41st minute, but referee Noumandiez Doue waved away the hosts' penalty appeals after Mohamed Salah went to ground under light contact in the box.

With a hostile atmosphere brewing in Cairo, the Black Stars would have certainly been feeling the pressure. Egypt continued to search for goals going into the second half and Salah came close again in the 75th minute, attempting to finish off a rebound with a flying volley in the Ghanan box.

The pressure finally paid off as Egypt scored their second goal in the 83rd minute. Salah slipped a pass to Gedo on the right and Gedo shot through Dauda's legs to give Egypt a late 2-0 lead.

But it was little more than a consolation goal as substitute Kevin-Prince Boateng pulled one back for Ghana in the 89th minute, sweeping in Asamoah Gyan's inviting cross from the right. Ghana who made the quarter-finals in South Africa will be aspiring to reach that stage again as they qualify for their third consecutive World Cup finals.

The Foxes earned their place in Brazil by the skin of their teeth, as a second half goal from Madjid Bougherra was enough to see them into the hat for the finals next summer.

Vahid Halilhodzic's side were beaten 3-2 in Ouagadougou in the first leg of this African play-off, but a goal from the Foxes' captain two minutes after the break booked their ticket to Brazil.

The visitors created very few opportunities in a disappointing display, and they were left to rue what might have been, as Algeria held on to spark scenes of celebration in Blida. Mohamed Zemmamouche replaced Rais M'Bolhi in the Algerian goal as one of five changes from the first leg made by Halilhodzic.

Burkina Faso, meanwhile, made four alterations to their starting XI from the encounter in Ouagadougou, with Toulouse defender Steeve Yago among those coming into the side. The visitors made the better of starts as proceedings got underway; they had the ball in the back of the net within two minutes, only for celebrations to be waved away as it was ruled offside.

Algeria began to work their way back into the tie, though, as they managed to penetrate the brick wall defence of Burkina Faso a couple of times during the opening half.

Two minutes after the break saw the back of the net ripple as a goal mouth scramble led to defender Bougherra's effort somehow finding it's way in. Halilhodzic's men continued to pile on the pressure, and could have progressed in a more convincing way if Slimani's volley was a few inches the other side of the post.

The visitors' inept attacking performance ultimately led to their failure to qualify for their first World Cup finals, a chance they will certainly rue.

Algeria will look to better their last performance at the World Cup finals by winning a game at next year's tournament, as in 2010 they only managed a point, which came against England in their second game of the group.

DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.


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