Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Road to 2010: African Qualifying Matches

The massive qualifier weekend -- 40 matches in two days -- concluded with six African matches today.

The short of it is ... Ghana clinched a berth in South Africa 2010 ... Tunisia scored a stunning goal in the final minute at Nigeria to hold on to first place in its group ... and Algeria won a late game to stay atop its group.

Expanding a bit on the highlights:

Ghana 2, Sudan 0: The Black Stars are booked for the World Cup finals for the second time -- after never having qualified before 2006. To be honest, Group D was astonishingly weak. Ghana had only to beat out Mali, Benin and Sudan, and after four consecutive shutout victories, the Black Stars are in -- with two matches in hand. It helps when you've got the likes of Stephen Appiah, Michael Essien (Chelsea), Sulley Muntari (Inter Milan) and John Mensah (Sunderland) -- and your opponents do not.

Nigeria 2, Tunisia 2: The Super Eagles were scant minutes away from victory -- and a dramatic jump over Tunisia and into first place in Group B -- when Oussama Darragi scored for Tunisia to force a tie and reduce Nigeria's points haul from three to one. Tunisia thus remains atop the group with eight points with Nigeria second with six. A stunning result. Nigeria and Tunisia each have matches left against also-rans Kenya and Mozambique. It was a a scoreless draw at Mozambique that got Nigeria into the fix it is now; maybe the Super Eagles can hope the Carthage Eagles stumble at Maputo, as well, when they visit in November. If not, Tunisia will qualify for its fourth consecutive World Cup.

Algeria 1, Zambia 0: Rafik Saifi scored in the 58th minute to give Algeria a victory that wasn't finished until nearly midnight. Algeria thus remains three points ahead of Egypt in Group C. Algeria must still play at Egypt, on Nov. 14, but even an Egyptian victory likely won't be enough to get the Pharoahs to South Africa because Algeria has a plus-5 goal differential to Egypt's plus-2. Egypt needs to win by three goals (the U.S., from the Confederations Cup, might be able to help Egypt with that) ... or get help from feeble Rwanda when it plays at Algeria next month. Basically, Algeria is all but in.

Now we take a breath ... and get ready for another big round of matches on Wednesday.

1 comment:

  1. "Alegeria has a plus-5 goal differential to Egypt's plus-2. Egypt needs to win by three goals..."

    Wouldn't that be two goals? Egypt up to plus-4, Algeria down to plus-3?