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2014 WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS : Presuure already looming on favourites

Panoramic

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The qualiiers for the 2014 World Cup(Afican Zone) starts on June first and runs to the 10 June . There will be two big days on programme . The qualifiers will end by November 2013 when the qualified teams for the Brazil rendez vous would be known.

Though not decisive, the first two stages would show a serious indication on the state of the teams vying for a ticket. The performances of the six teams at the 2010 Wrld Cup will be closely followed. That is South Africa,Algeria,Cameroon, Nigeria, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire. It will equally be interesting to keep an eye on the performances of teams that have equally tasted the world cup like Tunisia and Morocco- four participations each- as well as those of Senegal and Egypt. The Teranga Lions were the flops of the 2012 African Nations Cup despite their high profile squad. On their part, Egypt lost their bearings in 2011 and could not even qualify for the 2012 Nations Cup- a situation worsened by the revolution that has rocked the country for the past fifteen months and the Ismailia tragedy last November that left 77 dead. Finally, eyes would be focused on the recently crowned African Champions, Zambia and on other countries that have shown signs of progress since 2010 like Mali, Gabon, Botswana or Libya. Amongst the six African teams that were present at the last World Cup, South Africa have a relatively easy group on paper as compared to the others. They are drawn in Group A alongside Ethiopia, Central African Republic and Botswana. Algeria on their part witnessed a dark period in 2012 marked by their failure to qualify for the 2012 Nations cup. But after several change of coaches at the helm, the team seems to have been put back on track by Vahid Halilhodzic who is reputed for his competence and strictness. Unbeaten in their last six games including three official games, the Fennecs are tipped to top Group H which also features Mali are are the main threat in the group. The reault of the away game on June 8 will have a big incidence on the unfolding of events, eventhough Beni could cause a major upset. As for Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, the task seems even more difficult. The Elephants will have to face stiff competition on their path against a Moroccan side desperate to get back on winning ways after a disappointing 2012 Nations Cup campaign. After failing to qualify for the 2006 and 2010 campaigns, the Atlas Lions would be disappointed if they miss out on a third successive campaign. On the contrary, Cote d’Ivoire would be hoping to grab a third successive qualification after 2006 and 2010. Thus it would be a battle of giants- giants in doubt. This is because the Ivorians once more failed to lift the Afcon trophy after having been tipped as outright favourites for the crown while Morocco’s first round blushes at the Afcon could do no better than throw Eric Geret’s side in doubt. The loser in this Group C tie could pay dear and live to regret for a long period of time. In Group D, Ghana might equally face a situation of uncertainty. They have been drawn alongside African Champions, Zambia who are buoyed by their recent Cup triumph. The Zambians hold the psychological advantage after their one nil victory over the Black Stars on their route to the Nations Cup victory. The Chipolopolos are brimming with confidence and will be hoping to take the next step and qualify for their first ever World Cup. The clash between the new African Champions and the best African team at the 2010 World Cup scheduled for June 9 in Lusaka will have a particular twist. In Group I, Cameroon have been offered a good opportunity to get back to their high standing since 2010. The Indomitable Lions seem to have lost their authority on the continent and seem not to attract fear from any of their opponents again as they remained locked in their legendary internal problems. However Alexandre Song could spur his team mates on with his aggressiveness, experience and his formidable mental ability. The DR Congo will be their greatest threat , Libya could have been but would have to play their home matches on neutral grounds. Amongst the six African nations at the last World cup, Nigeria have the simplest draw of all. With a young squad under construction, under the leadership of Stephen Keshi, the Super Eagles are highly tipped to finish top of Group F composed of Kenya(without Oliech, and without an experienced goalkeeper), Malawi ( who came into the fray only after the 2010 Nations Cup) and Namibia, who have offer little or nothing so far on the continent. Impressive and dominant on the continent for four years, Egypt has always had in difficult qualifying for the World Cup. Apart from two participations (1934 and 1990), the Pharoahs have always found it difficult to squeeze a place through to the world cup. Drawn in a balanced Group G, Bob Bradley’s men can hope to go through this first phase though they would have to be very careful of a Guinea side that have proven tough to beat in the past. One thing is certain; Egypt’s preparation has been intensive with over ten friendlies since the start of 2012. Finally, a keen eye will equally be kept on Tunisia and Senegal. The Teranga Lions have an opportunity to put the disastrous nations’ cup campaign behind them with a world cup qualification but it seems it will be a tough road against opponents like Angola, Uganda and Liberia. As for the Cartage Eagles, they possess all the qualities to shrug off opposition from Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, and Cape Verde.

PROGRAMME FOR MATCHDAY ONE
Group A
South Africa, Botswana ,Central African Republic, Ethiopia

1-3 June: Central African Republic – Botswana ; Rustenberg : South Africa– Ethiopia
9 – 10 June : Addis-Abeba : Ethiopia – Central African Republic ; Gaborone: Botswana – South Africa

Group B
Tunisia, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone

1-3 June: Freetown : Sierra Leone – Cape Verde ; Monastir : Tunisia –Equatorial Guinea
9 -10 June: Praia :Cape Verde – Tunisia ; Malabo: Equatorial Guinea – Sierra Leone

Group C
Morocco, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Tanzania

1-3 June: Bakau : Gambia –Morocco ; Abidjan : Cote d’Ivoire – Tanzania
9-10 juin: Marrakech : Morocco -Côte d’Ivoire ; Dar Essalam : Tanzania – Gambia

Groupa D
Ghana, Zambia, Sudan,Lesotho

1-3 June: Kumasi : Ghana – Lesotho ; Khartoum: Sudan – Zambia
9-10 juin: : Ndola : Zambia – Ghana; Maseru : Lesotho – Sudan

Group E
Burkina Faso, Congo, Gabon, Niger
1-3 June :Ouagadougou: Burkina Faso -Congo; Niamey : Niger – Gabon
9-10 June: Pointe Noire : Congo – Niger ; Libreville : Gabon- Burkina Faso

Group F
Nigeria,Malawi, Kenya,Namibia

1-3 June: Nairobi: Kenya – Malawi ; Calabar : Nigeria – Namibia
9-10 juin: Blantyre : Malawi – Nigeria ; Windhoeck : Namibia – Kenya

Group G
Egypt, Guinea, Zimbabwe, Mozambique

1 -3 june: Alexandria : Egypt – Mozambique ; 3 june: Harare Zimbabwe-Guinea
9-10 June; Maputo : Mozambique – Zimbabwe ; Conakry :Guinea – Egypt

Group H
Algeria, Mali, Benin,Rwanda

1-3 June:Blida: Algerie – Rwanda ; Cotonou : Benin – Mali
9-10 June: Bamako: Mali – Algerie: Kigali : Rwanda – Benin

Group I
Cameroon, Libya, Togo , DR Congo
1-3 June :Cameroon – DR Congo ; Lome : Togo– Libya
9-10 June:Kinshasa : DR Congo – Togo ; Sfax : Libya – Cameroon

Group J
Senegal, Uganda, Angola, Liberia

1-3 June: Dakar: Senegal – Liberia ; Luanda : Angola – Uganda

Signature : Fayçal CHEHAT

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