Ethiopia, Egypt clinch playoff berths

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Ethiopia, looking to qualify for its first World Cup, joined the Ivory Coast and Egypt in becoming the first teams to qualify for the final round of playoffs in African qualifying.

Egypt, under former U.S. coach Bob Bradley, took the playoff place in Group G with a 1-0 win in Mozambique.

Bernard Parker's own-goal in the 70th minute gave Ethiopia its 2-1 comeback victory over South Africa, ending any chance of the 2010 World Cup host playing in Brazil in 2014.

The National Stadium in Addis Ababa was packed with roaring fans. Thousands also crowded outside the stadium walls in the capital within minutes of the victory. The outcome underlined Ethiopia's soccer resurgence after it played at this year's African Cup for the first time in 30 years.

South Africa had taken the lead on Parker's left-footed volley in the 33rd minute. Getaneh Kebede tied it in the 42nd. Parker, however, misdirected a header, with the ball rocketing into the top right corner of his net. The play jolted the 25,000 Ethiopian fans.

Ethiopia goes to the top of Group A with a game against Central African Republic to spare. Ethiopia coach Sewnet Bishaw called the victory a ''turning point'' for soccer in the country after years of problems.

''It was a free goal they gave us, but anyway it was a nice match. ... So we go to Central Africa for a visit, a picnic.''

Ethiopia is now one of the 10 countries that will play off for Africa's five places at the World Cup.

''I think I need to congratulate Ethiopia. It was a tough game and the crowd was magnificent,'' South Africa coach Gordon Igesund said. ''We couldn't have done more than we've done. There's got to be a winner and it was them today.''


With the World Cup one year away, Brazil's final sprint starts now.

Ivory Coast won 4-2 in Tanzania after being down 1-0 and 2-1, helped by two goals from Manchester City's Yaya Toure. Five goals came in the first half before Africa's top-ranked team prevailed and took the playoff place as Group C winner, making Morocco's 2-0 win over Gambia on Saturday irrelevant.

Egypt has a chance at its first World Cup appearance since 1990 after it won in Mozambique to dominate Group G with five wins from five games so far. Mohamed Salah scored the 40th-minute winner in Maputo, adding to the hat trick he got in Egypt's win over Zimbabwe in the last round.

A place at Brazil 2014 would be a remarkable turnaround for Bradley's team after it failed to qualify for the 2012 and 2013 African Cups as political violence and unrest at home contributed to one of Egyptian soccer's lowest periods.

Ghana, a 2010 World Cup quarterfinalist, won 2-0 in Lesotho with goals by Christian Atsu and Asamoah Gyan to put the Black Stars in first place in Group D by a point over former African champion Zambia. Ghana hosts Zambia in the final round of group games in September.

Tunisia can qualify for the playoffs with a victory over Equatorial Guinea later Sunday, as can fellow North Africans Algeria if African Cup semifinalist Mali doesn't beat Benin. Cameroon needs to beat Congo to keep pace with Libya in Group I.

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