Africa play-off draw for Brazil 2014 sets up fascinating contests
The road to Brazil 2014 nears the end for African teams with the last phase of the qualifiers decided after the play-off draw held at CAF Headquarters in Cairo. Ivory Coast will renew rivalry with SenegalÃ‚Â while Ghana and Egypt fight it out for a ticket to the finals. TunisiaÃ‚Â will play against Cameroon, while Ethiopia takes on Nigeria and Burkina Faso will have to contest with Algeria.
The mouth-watering matches will take place over two leg with the first scheduled for 11- 15 October and the fiveÃ‚Â (5) sides to represent African will be known after 15-19 November 2ndleg ties.
Ethiopia and Burkina Faso are the only side not to have play at the World Cup finals and will have their work cut out if they are to make their debut in Brazil. Ethiopian coach Sewnet Bishaw toldÃ‚Â Cafonline.comÃ‚Â after the draw that he is looking forward to the two matches against African champions, Nigeria. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a good draw and we will give it a good go against Nigeria whom we have played before. At this stage you cannot have preferred opponents because this is the end of qualifiers and all sides left are good , so yes l am happy with the draw and l can tell you that Nigeria will meet a different Ethiopia from the one they played against during AFCON 2013Ã¢â‚¬Â
Meanwhile Paul Put, coach of Burkina Faso, one the continentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most improved sides was cautiously philosophical about the encounter with Algeria. The Belgian toldÃ‚Â Cafonline.comÃ‚Â that, Algeria has a bigger football pedigree but that will not deter his charges from putting up a fight.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a balanced draw and in Algeria we will face a big football nation so that means we have to do our homework in preparing for these two big games of our lives.Ã‚Â Burkinabe players have been active in preparations and we hope to take it from there and build on the self- belief we have got from reaching this stage and also reaching AFCON 2013 finals. This will motivate us to try harder to reach our first World Cup finalÃ¢â‚¬Â
The Ivorians will draw comfort from their last meeting with Senegal in a 2013 Cup of Nations qualifier. The ‘Elephants’ won 4-2 in Abidjan and were two goals ahead in Dakar when crowd violence forced the game to be abandoned during the second half.
Ghana find themselves facing an Egyptian side that sailed through round two of the qualifiers with a 100% record. The last time the two sides met in a competitive match The Pharaohs beat The Black Stars 1-0 in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations final with Mohamed ‘Geddo’ Nagy scoring the late winner. Ghana on the other hand are looking to join Cameroon as the only other African team to reach three consecutive World Cup finals. The Black StarsÃ‚Â reached the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals and will be boosted by the returning players like Michael Essien, the Ayew brothers, Andre and Jordan Ayew andÃ‚Â Kevin-Prince Boateng.
A major handicap for Egypt has been the lack of crowd support with home games played behind closed doors or in front of tiny crowds due to security concerns. Tunisia must find a coach before hosting Cameroon as Nabil Maaloul quit after a home loss to Cape Verde Islands last weekend. Former Dutch star Ruud Krol, who coaches local club CS Sfaxien, is the man Tunisian officials want as they seek a fifth World Cup appearance. Burkina Faso are among the most improved African sides and hope to build on a shock 2013 Cup of Nations final appearance by overcoming Algeria. The winners of the two legged ties will compete at 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.