Nige­ria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast favoured to progress to Brazil 2014

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

NIGE­RIA are poised to qual­ify for the World Cup fi­nals this weekend, tak­ing a lead into their home tie with Ethiopia, while Cameroon and the Ivory Coast look to fin­ish off Tu­nisia and Sene­gal re­spec­tively.

The African cham­pi­ons beat Ethiopia 2-1 in the first leg qual­i­fier in Ad­dis Ababa last month, giv­ing them the edge for to­day’s re­turn leg in Cal­abar.

But Su­per Ea­gles coach Stephen Keshi is wary of com­pla­cency, as they eye their fifth ap­pear­ance at the fi­nals.

“Yes, we may have the ad­van­tage but we are not con­sid­er­ing that right now,” he said. “Our fo­cus is to qual­ify for the World Cup and win­ning one game does not guar­an­tee us a ticket, so we need to get the re­sult to­day.”

Nige­ria has a solid record against Ethiopia, hav­ing won five times in eight en­coun­ters and for­ward Vic­tor Moses was con­fi­dent of vic­tory.

“We will win for the coun­try and qual­ify for the World Cup,” said Moses, who this week made the short­list for the BBC African Foot­baller of the Year award.

Nige­ria are with­out mid­fielder Nosa Igie­bor and Uche Nwofor through in­jury.

Ethiopia have been boosted by the re­turn from South Africa striker Ge­taneh Kebede, who scored four goals in the qual­i­fiers but missed the first leg with an an­kle in­jury.

Striker Sal­adin Said said Ethiopia were still in with a chance. “Nige­ria might have the up­per hand by virtue of the away goal but I be­lieve it is not over un­til the 90 min­utes.”

Also to­day, Ivory Coast take on Sene­gal on neu­tral ter­ri­tory in Casablanca, Morocco, af­ter ri­ot­ing marred an Africa Cup of Na­tions’ qual­i­fier be­tween the two sides last year.

The Ele­phants are favourites go­ing into the tie af­ter last month’s first leg in Abid­jan, but Sene­gal snatched a po­ten­tially cru­cial away goal in the 3-1 de­feat.

Ivory Coast will be with­out de­fend­ers Arthur Boka and Si­aka Tiene through in­jury while mid­fielder Chieck Tiote is sus­pended.

In a sur­prise move, Sene­gal have dropped Demba Ba, amid sug­ges­tions of dif­fer­ences be­tween the striker and coach Alain Giresse.

Tomorrow, six-time World Cup fi­nal­ists Cameroon face off against Tu­nisia in Yaounde, with all to play for af­ter a 0-0 draw in Tu­nis in the first leg.

The In­domitable Li­ons will again be led by Sa­muel Eto’o, who is find­ing his feet in the English Pre­mier League with Chelsea af­ter be­ing off-loaded by Rus­sian Pre­mier League out­fit Anzhi Makhachkala.

But Eto’o has sparked con­tro­versy by al­leg­ing that other play­ers had been told not to pass to him.

“It is sad to say it but it is true,” said Eto’o, who was per­suaded by the coun­try’s pres­i­dent to come out of in­ter­na­tional re­tire­ment. “If I moved so much to­wards the mid­field against Tu­nisia, it is be­cause I knew about it al­ready.

“But on Sun­day, we’re talk­ing about Cameroon, our coun­try. We must put our prob­lems be­hind us and play for Cameroon.”

Tu­nisia’s coach Ruud Krol said he was ex­pect­ing Cameroon to at­tack, in con­trast to their mainly de­fen­sive ap­proach in the first game.

“We played to score while try­ing not to con­cede a goal. In Cameroon, we will play to keep a clean sheet while try­ing to score,” said Krol. – Sapa-AFP

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