Monday, October 10, 2005

World Football Cup Finals


Four nations into first World Cup.
By Martin Davies.

Tunisia, Angola, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Togo have booked their places at next year's World Cup finals in Germany.
With the leadership of groups changing hands constantly on Saturday, African football will send four debutants to the World Cup. Angola were the first side to make it through, but only when a late goal from Fabrice Akwa secured a 1-0 victory over Rwanda in Kigali in Group Four.

Until then Nigeria, who secured a 5-1 victory over Zimababwe in Abuja, were ready to profit from what might have been an Angolan slip-up had the Palancas Negras drawn in Rwanda. Had Angola drawn, the Super Eagles would have been in line to register their fourth trip to a World Cup finals in a row. But the Angolans' victory and superior head-to-head record in matches against Nigeria was enough to see the Palancas Negras through.

In Group Two, Ghana went into the final day as the best-placed of all the group leaders and they ensured their maiden trip to the World Cup finals with ease. An early Sulley Muntari goal was followed up by three further Black Stars strikes to see them through 4-0 against Cape Verde in Praia. Group One leaders Togo had a rollercoaster of a ride in Brazzaville.

Togo fans will be celebrating their country's World Cup qualificationThey ended up 3-2 winners against Congo, but twice the Hawks had to come from behind before they were able to secure victory. Senegal's comfortable 3-0 win over Mali in Dakar would have been enough but proved futile and the 2002 World Cup quarter-finalists are out. Yet the most dramatic qualification came in Group Three. It was literally in time added on that the group qualifier for Germany was decided.
In Yaounde, where Cameroon were hosting Egypt, a penalty had been awarded to the home side, who had beed pegged back to 1-1 following an early Rudolph Douala strike. Up stepped Pierre Wome, who hit the winning penalty for Cameroon at the 2000 Olympics, but this time he struck his kick low, left footed and beyond the goalkeeper's reach but - to the horror of Indomitable Lions fans - the ball hit the post and went wide. In Khartoum, Ivory Coast had done enough to secure a World Cup berth should Cameroon have slipped up as they beat Sudan 3-1.

Previously only 9 African countries had ever qualified for the World Cup and now that number has swollen to 13. The final World Cup place went to Tunisia as they drew 2-2 with Morocco in Group Five in Tunis on Saturday night.
Morocco took an early lead through Marouane Chamakh before Jose Clayton drew Tunisia level from the penalty spot. Chamakh then restored the lead for the visitors only for Charlton's Talal El Karkouri to score an own goal in the second half that gave Tunisia the draw that they needed to qualify for Germany.
BBC Sports News Report.

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