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Monday, October 11, 2010

Africa's Big Guns Tumble at the Hands of Minnows in Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers

Africa Cup of Nations Champions Egypt, Nigeria’s Super Eagles and Desert Foxes of Algeria fall to minnows on a weekend of upsets in 2012 Nations Cup qualifiers.

Okay. First things first. My prediction that Kenya would beat Uganda was wrong. But at least some things worked. Mariga hit the post, Oliech was more effective than he was against Guinea Bissau, and Ghost Mulee had a ghost-like team selection, something that Carol Radul says is what cost us the game in her Supersport blog. But this guy attributed the stalemate between the Cranes and Harambee Stars to the presence of one man; Raila Odinga, the Kenyan Prime Minister whose presence, the guy claims, brings no luck to the Kenyan side. Could the PM be the reason why Kenya has of late not been perfoming well? And if so, should he be banned from attending football matches pitting Kenya and some other team?

I leave it to you to decide. Here are the highlights between Harambee Stars and the Cranes:

Back on the pitch, a lot of things happened across the continent that even made the Kenya-Uganda result seem insignificant to moderate football pundits.

It was a weekend full of upsets as many African football heavyweights were humbled by minnows in the ongoing 2012 Nations Cup qualifying matches.

The biggest shocker however came from the 35,000-seater Stade Général Seyni Kountché in Niamey, where Niger, placed 154th on the FIFA rankings list, stunned Egypt, ranked 9th, through a Moussa Ouwoh Maazou solitary strike after 34 minutes. In what could only be tagged as a 21st Century Goliath-David face-off, David (read Niger) triumphed once again over his bigger and more respected opponent. 
David once again carried the day in Niger v Egypt clash

The defeat condemned the seven-time AFCON champions, who also drew their first match against Sierra Leone to last position in the group, while Niger moved up to second place behind South Africa who could only manage a 0-0 stalemate away in Sierra Leone.

Guinea continued to pile more misery on Nigeria, beating them 1-0 on the backdrop of a lifted suspension by FIFA on the Super Eagles.

The lone goal scored early in the first-half in front of a fully-packed September 28 Stadium in Conakry ensured that the Silly Nationale take lead of Group B with a maximum six points, while the Nigerians remain second with three points. In another match, Ethiopia snatched a solo goal victory away in Madagascar to earn their first points in the group and take the third spot.

World Cup quarterfinalists Ghana were restrained to a lackluster goalless draw at home by Sudan but still remain top of Group I with four points, same as Sudan but with a superior goal difference. In the group’s other game, Congo beat Swaziland 3-1 at the Stade de la Révolution in Brazzaville to dent the Southern African nation's hopes of featuring in the 2012 event to be co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

Algeria’s woes continued after they were pulled down 2-0 at the Central African Republic. Audin Boutou fired the hosts ahead in the 81st minute and Momi Hilaire secured the points in the 86th minute to send the Group 4 minnows into top position. The Desert Foxes remain rooted to the foot of the table behind Tanzania and Morocco who squared off in a match that the North Africans won 1-0.

In Group E, Cameroon could only manage a 1-1 draw with Democratic Republic of Congo, while Senegal showed no mercy to Mauritius routing them 7-0 to go top of the table. Cameroon remain second with DR Congo third while Mauritius’ chance look slim at last position with no points.

Another goals galore was in store in Malawi who mauled Chad 6-2, while Tunisia saved the face of North African teams by beating hosts Togo 2-1.

In other matches, Mali beat Liberia 2-1 in Group A, while Zimbabwe and Cape Verde shared the spoils. In Group C, Mozambique and Libya both had a solitary goal win over the Comoros and Zambian Chipolopolo respectively, while Burkina Faso dismissed Gambia 3-1 in Group F.

In Group J, nothing could separate Kenya and Uganda at the Nyayo National Stadium where the bitter rivals drew 0-0. Angola picked themselves up after their previous 3-0 loss to Uganda to beat Guinea Bissau 1-0 in another match in the group.
Kenya's Mariga hit the post twice against Uganda

The next round of qualifiers are set to kick off on 25th March 2011.

The 11 group winners, runner-up of Group K (which contains 5 teams) plus the top three runners-up qualify for the 28th edition of the African Cup of Nations finals to be held in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

Check out the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations Group Standings here.

And That's thesteifmastertake!!