African World Cup qualifying preview

African 2014 World Cup qualifying preview

Posted: 16 November 2013 Time: 10:04 am

Ed Dove looks at the five African World Cup qualifying play-off matches this weekend, the key men that will influence the matches, and the likely outcomes.

Nigeria vs Ethiopia
The First Leg: Stephen Keshi’s young Super Eagles side overcame the altitude and atmosphere of Addis Ababa to secure the only away victory of the first leg fixtures. Nigeria looked nervy in the opening stages, but sprung into life after a Vincent Enyeama mishap gifted Ethiopia an opener. Emmanuel Emenike, a forward of genuine class and growing influence, responded with a brace – the second goal being of exceptional quality – to change the complexion of the tie.

The Key Men: Emenike, along with Liverpool’s Victor Moses, possess pace and power enough to trouble Ethiopia. If either of these two hit the ground running then Nigeria could finish the contest swiftly. Enyeama and John Obi Mikel will be called upon to calm their compatriots should the Walias’ pluck unsettle Keshi’s young squad; the latter will be crucial as he dictates play and organises those around him from the heart of the midfield.

Ed Dove’s Prediction: Stephen Keshi will be confident that, with the tie still firmly in their own hands, Nigeria can secure World Cup qualification on Saturday. It is imperative, however, that the Super Eagles settle quickly, absorb the inevitable Ethiopian pressure, and close the tie before the visitors are allowed to believe once more.
Nigeria Qualify

Egypt vs Ghana
The First Leg: Despite being billed as the clash between two continental heavyweights, the first-leg was remarkably one-sided. The Pharaohs’ initial vigour soon evaporated as waves and waves of Black Star attacks were met with feeble, trembling resistance. While Egypt’s fragility stole the headlines, Ghana’s supremacy was outstanding. The West African powerhouses bulldozed their opponents 6-1, and made a major statement ahead of the World Cup next summer.

The Key Man: Michael Essien has a lot to prove having endured some injury-ravaged seasons and some time away from the national side. The fact that he missed the last World Cup (and Ghana’s triumphant run to the quarter-finals) surely only adds to his motivation. Along with Kwadwo Asamoah, Sulley Muntari, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Emmanuel Badu and Andre Ayew, Essien forms part of one of international football’s most impressive midfield stables.

Ed Dove’s Prediction: Surely a no-contest. Ghana have scored in every game they have played so far this season. Should they find the net in Cairo, the Pharaohs will require seven goals to win the tie. It’s just not going to happen, is it?!
Ghana Qualify

Senegal vs Cote d’Ivoire
The First Leg: A dominant first hour from the hosts looked to have killed the tie before an expectant home crowd in Abidjan. Perhaps already dreaming of the Copacabana, Cote d’Ivoire took their foot off the gas and let Papiss Cisse score a late goal. Could it prove to be more than just a consolation prize?

The Key Man: Gervinho, with his searing pace and direct running, is perhaps the most likely contender to kill off the Senegalese resistance. The Ivorian’s current form ought to imbue the Lions’ backline with fear. If Alain Giresse’s men are to remain competitive in Casablanca, then they will need to get a handle on the midfield, where Yaya Toure is such a dominant figure. Lille midfielder Idrissa Gueye may, therefore, prove to be a key actor. He continues to go from strength-to-strength in Northern France and his dynamism and power will be vital in both protecting the Senegalese defence and supplying the team’s sublime collection of strikers. Mohamed Diame will also need to be at his best.

Ed Dove’s Prediction: While Cisse’s late goal in Abidjan adds a vague shade of doubt to this contest, it is not enough to dissuade me from backing the Elephants. The Ivorians haven’t failed to qualify for an international tournament for a decade and I don’t see that changing on Saturday.
Cote d’Ivoire Qualify

Cameroon vs Tunisia
The First Leg: Tunisia enjoyed the best of the action as they and Cameroon played out a dour 0-0 draw in Rades. Indomitable Lions keeper Charles Itandje was the star of the show as he repeatedly repelled the North African attacks to preserve the parity between the two teams.

The Key Man: Samuel Eto’o has long taken on the goal-scoring burden for Cameroon. These days, however, the nation is suffering from a dearth of creative midfielders – a reality that was abundantly evident during the blunt first leg. It may be that Eto’o will be required to operate in a deeper role and forge the moves rather than simply finish them off. If he can excel in this role, one not too different to that which he played in Russia with Anzhi Makhachkala, then he may well be the game’s most influential contributor.

Ed Dove’s Prediction: I suspect that Cameroon’s electric home support, an inspired Itandje, and the nation’s impressive banks of defensive talent will make the difference against Tunisia. If Eto’o can bring his recent Chelsea form back home, then they should be fine. If not, or if Tunisia score first, then things might get fairly tetchy!
Cameroon Qualify

Algeria vs Burkina Faso
The First Leg: Perhaps the least star-studded of the five play-off ties, but arguably the most intriguing. Burkina Faso and Algeria are two sides with obvious weaknesses, and both were exposed in the first leg. That contest finished 3-2, with the North Africans particularly aggrieved about a late, controversial penalty that has surely given the Stallions an invaluable advantage.

The Key Man: Both sides possess key men who could, on their day, be the difference between jubilant celebration and lonely failure. For Algeria, Adlene Guedioura, of Crystal Palace, has the presence and the power to take control of the midfield and mute the Burkina Faso offensive, or at least stifle the influential Charles Kabore. The Burkinabe are about much more than Kabore, however, and in Jonathan Pitroipa, Afcon 2013’s star attraction, Alain Traore, a player for the big occasion, and the colourful Aristide Bance, they possess enough talent to threaten Algeria’s return to the World Cup.

Ed Dove’s Prediction: Almost too close to call. My head tells me that the Blida crowd, Algeria’s experience, and their two away goals, makes them favourites for the tie. On the other hand, however, this has already been a year of unprecedented success for the Stallions – World Cup qualification would represent the perfect end to 2013.
Burkina Faso Qualify … just!

Follow me on Twitter @EddyDove

Article by: Ed Dove

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Dallas-Guru
posted: 10:31am 16/11/2013
@EddyDove, I will have to disagree with you on your last review Between Algeria VS Burkina Faso. I think this match will go to the North African, I love my west African Brother but it is what it is. For brazil 2014 my own prediction :
Nigeria, Ghana, CIV, Cameroun, Algeria.
Dallas-Guru
posted: 10:32am 16/11/2013
@EddyDove, I will have to disagree with you on your last review Between Algeria VS Burkina Faso. I think this match will go to the North African, I love my west African Brother but it is what it is. For brazil 2014 my own prediction :
Nigeria, Ghana, CIV, Cameroun, Algeria.
Omo 9ja
posted: 10:53am 16/11/2013
Brazil 2014 is a special one for every continents. Therefore, I want the all West Africa nations to make it to the World Cup in Brazil. No room for Ethiopia & co lol. Its achievable, impossible is nothing. With Allah, all things are possible. God bless Nigeria!!!
alin ball
posted: 10:57am 16/11/2013
Start your comment here may be i will go for 9igeria ,Ivory Coast , Ghana ,Cameroon ,Algeria.
healthpresi
posted: 11:18am 16/11/2013
@ Dalla gur, I concur wt ur prediction.
blessed75
posted: 11:48am 16/11/2013
this are the confirm teams, if you guys like it or not, believe it
Nigeria, Ghana, CIV, Cameroun, Algeria will make it to BRAZIL 2014
Essexgod
posted: 12:21pm 16/11/2013
The visitors can believe all they want!
And you are only stating the obvious! Nigeria match up with Ethiopia is the Only \"Surely no-contest\", my friend.
Even the Ghanians will tell you!
Ghana has the most difficult tie going into the second leg! And they know it!
Ed Dove a piece of advice, don't you go to Ghana and tell them, going to play Egypt away is a \"no contest\" because they will look at you with disdain!
Nigeria at home is NOT South Africa at home or away!
South Africa always have problems playing Ethiopia but not Nigeria, Ethiopia is what South Africa is to us when we meet on the field of play-they get walloped!
Anonymous
posted: 12:40pm 16/11/2013
@
naijacommando ABEG THAT GRAMMER TOO MUCH OUR BOYS WILL SPEAK ON THE PITCH THE AFRICAN CHAMPIONS AND WORLD CHAMPIONS IN THE MAKING COME NEXT YEAR BRAZIL 2014. I LOVE NIGERIA I LOVE KESHI AND I LOVE ALL THE PLAYERS MY CHILDHOOD BUDDY @ K TOWN EMENIKE AM PROUD OF YOU 3 GOALS ABEG.OBI WILL SCORE AGAIN AND ALL THE GREAT EAGLES YOU GUYS ARE IMMORTALS IN THE HISTORY OF NIGERIA GO AND DO IT FOR YOURSELVES GO AND DO IT FOR US.,,,,,,,,,MICHAEL
wamaselo
posted: 12:43pm 16/11/2013
Very true to me!!
Francois
posted: 03:24pm 16/11/2013
Nigerians need to respect the Ethiopian Team. But i think the quality gap between the Eagles and Ethiopia is quite large. With all due respect the Nigerian Eagles team below will probably beat Ethiopia in Calabar.

Dele Alampasu

Musa Mohammed
Godfrey Oboabona
Omeruo or Egwueke
Samuel Okon

Mikel
Onazi
Chidi Nwakili
Musa Yahaya

Emenike
Iheanacho
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