Soccer

Decisive CAR-Ethiopia qualifier in Rep. of Congo

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JOHANNESBURG (AP)

FIFA has moved Ethiopia's crucial World Cup qualifier away to Central African Republic in September to neutral Republic of Congo, the Ethiopian Football Federation said on Wednesday.

FIFA also decided that Senegal will play its decisive final group game against Uganda in Morocco because of the ban on Senegal's main football stadium.

Both games are scheduled for Sept. 7.

Ethiopia's final Group A game was meant to be hosted by Central African Republic but was relocated to Brazzaville for security reasons after CAR's president was overthrown this year. The country's qualifier against South Africa last month was played in neutral Cameroon.

Ethiopia now must win to guarantee its progression to Africa's 10-team playoffs for next year's World Cup after it forfeited a victory over Botswana for fielding an ineligible player earlier in the competition. A draw could be enough for the Ethiopians depending on the result of South Africa's game with Botswana on the same day.

Ethiopia, which has never been to the World Cup, leads the group by two points ahead of the final round after the point totals were readjusted when Ethiopia was stripped of the Botswana win by FIFA.

Senegal's place in the playoffs will be decided in Marrakech against Group J challenger Uganda in their winner-take-all match. Senegal leads that group by a point but hasn't been allowed to play at Leopold Senghor Stadium in Dakar after being punished for a riot at an African Cup qualifier against Ivory Coast late last year.

The Confederation of African Football imposed a one-year ban on the venue and Senegal played its last home qualifier in Guinea.

The winners of Africa's 10 groups qualify for the playoffs, with five teams eventually reaching next year's World Cup in Brazil. Only top-ranked African team Ivory Coast, Egypt and Algeria have confirmed their places in the playoffs ahead of the final round of group games in early September.

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Associated Press writer Kirubel Tadesse in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, contributed to this report.

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