Africa’s lowest-ranked teams begin road to Brazil
Namibia, Kenya and Republic of Congo had strong away wins as
Africa’s lowest-ranked teams began their quests to reach the 2014
World Cup on Friday.
Namibia won 4-0 in Djibouti, Auxerre striker Dennis Oliech
scored as Kenya beat Seychelles 3-0 and Republic of Congo routed
Sao Tome and Principe 5-0 in the first leg.
Togo, which played at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, was held
1-1 in Guinea-Bissau.
Ten games were scheduled for Friday, with one more on Saturday,
as 22 teams battle over two legs for the 11 places available
alongside Africa’s big football nations in the second round – a
40-team group stage that starts next year.
Liberia already progressed after Mauritius withdrew, while
Tanzania, Mozambique, African Cup of Nations co-host Equatorial
Guinea and Congo also won their first-leg matches.
Five countries will eventually emerge from a two-year process
involving 51 of Africa’s 53 confederation members to earn a ticket
to Brazil after a final round of playoffs in late 2013.
Togo and Congo are the only teams involved in Africa’s earliest
round of qualifiers who have been to world football’s showpiece
before. Congo became the first sub-Sahara African team to play at a
World Cup in 1974 under former name Zaire.
Namibia scored three second-half goals in its convincing victory
in Djibouti, which is Africa’s second-lowest ranked team at No. 195
in the world.
Oliech scored Kenya’s third in the 81st minute after Pascal
Ochieng and Kevin Kimani put the visitors in control of their tie
Christopher Missilou scored as early as the third minute to send
Republic of Congo on its way to a dominant win over Sao Tome and
Tresor Mputu returned for Congo after a yearlong ban for violent
conduct after chasing and trying to kick a referee in a club game,
and was made captain by French coach Claude le Roy. Mputu scored
Congo’s second goal in a 3-1 win away to Swaziland.
Tanzania and Mozambique also clinched vital away wins over Chad
and Comoros respectively, but Togo’s draw in Guinea-Bissau means it
has work to do in next week’s return leg to make sure its doesn’t
suffer an embarrassing early exit from qualifying.
After qualifying for Germany 2006, the slumping Togo team failed
to make the 2010 World Cup and also didn’t qualify for next year’s
African Cup of Nations.
Equatorial Guinea won 2-0 over Madagascar in its new stadium in
Malabo, which will host Cup of Nations matches in January and
February. It was Equatorial Guinea’s first competitive match in 12
months as it didn’t need to qualify for the African Cup.
Eritrea and Rwanda drew 1-1 and 19-year-old Lehlomela Ramabele
scored late in Lesotho’s 1-0 win over Burundi, giving the tiny
southern African enclave a chance at rubbing shoulders with African
giants Ivory Coast and Ghana in the main qualifying
Troubled Somalia starts its World Cup dream when it faces
Ethiopia in neutral Djibouti in the only game on Saturday.
Second-leg games are set for Nov. 15 and 16.