Race for Af­con spots hots up

The Star Early Edition - - SOCCER -

ABUJA: South Africa, Cameroon and Tu­nisia will qual­ify for next year’s Africa Cup of Na­tions – wher­ever it takes place – if they win their penul­ti­mate qual­i­fy­ing games this week­end.

Al­ge­ria and Cape Verde have al­ready qual­i­fied for the 2015 tour­na­ment whose orig­i­nal hosts Morocco were stripped of the rights to stage the Jan­uary 17-Fe­bru­ary 8 fi­nals over con­cerns over Ebola.

South Africa are top of Group A with eight points and are play­ing for the first time since the mur­der of skip­per Senzo Meyiwa.

If they beat Su­dan to­mor­row in Dur­ban, this will give them an unas­sail­able 11 points.

Bafana Bafana beat Su­dan 3-0 in Om­dur­man in Septem­ber in the first match be­tween the two sides.

Congo and African cham­pi­ons Nige­ria are also locked in a tussle in the same Group A with the Su­per Ea­gles in se­ri­ous dan­ger of miss­ing out on the 16-team tour­na­ment after they lost to Congo and Su­dan.

The Ea­gles, who have re­in­stated coach Stephen Keshi and re­called Vil­lar­real striker Ikechukwu Uche, lost to Congo 3-2 at home in Septem­ber and now need to win to­mor­row by at least two clear goals to stay in the reck­on­ing for au­to­matic qual­i­fi­ca­tion.

Congo are sec­ond with seven points and have two match win­ners in Fere­bory Dore, who has scored three goals in the qual­i­fy­ing se­ries, and Spain-based star Thievy Bi­fouma, who net­ted a brace and pro­vided an as­sist as the Red Devils stunned the star-stud­ded Nige­ria in Cal­abar.

Cameroon are ex­pected to book their ticket from Group D with a win in Yaounde against sec­ond­placed DR Congo.

The four-time cham­pi­ons are on 10 points, four points clear of DRC who they beat 2-0 in the re­verse fix­ture three months ago.

The Ivory Coast are ex­pected to get their cam­paign back on track in the same group by do­ing the dou­ble over Sierra Leone in Abidjan after they de­feated the Leone Stars 2-1.

This match will be played in Abidjan be­cause Ebola in Sierra Leone. – Sapa-AFP

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