World Cup 2014: African qualifiers set for climax
African champions Nigeria are among six teams involved in this weekend’s World Cup play-offs second legs.
The match between the Super Eagles and Ethiopia is the first to kick off on Saturday, with Senegal hosting Ivory Cost later the same day and Cameroon welcoming Tunisia on Sunday.
The remaining two ties of the round – Egypt v Ghana and Algeria v Burkina Faso – will be played on Tuesday.
The five aggregate winners of the ties will qualify for next year’s tournament in Brazil.
NigeriaÃ‚Â are favourites to book one of the berths as they holdÃ‚Â a 2-1 leadÃ‚Â from the first leg in Addis Ababa last month and will have home advantage in Calabar.
However, coach Stephen Keshi has warned thatÃ‚Â EthiopiaÃ‚Â still pose a major threat to Nigeria’s bid to qualify for a fifth World Cup.
“Ethiopia are still a threat because they are a very good side and have been together for up to five years, unlike our team which is relatively young and new,” Keshi said.
“And so we have not qualified, but on the verge of doing so and we must not let down our guards at this crucial moment.
“Gradually, we are getting to where we want to be and by Saturday hopefully we should be among the 32 nations whose flags will be flown at the Brazil 2014 World Cup.”
Keshi is without Real Betis midfielder Nosa Igiebor and Uche Nwofor, from Dutch club Heerenveen, who have dropped out of the squad because of injury.
ButÃ‚Â Chelsea defender Kenneth Omeruo,Ã‚Â Gabriel Reuben from Scottish club Kilmarnock, and United States-based striker Bright Dike are all back after long-term injuries.
Ethiopia have been boosted by theÃ‚Â return of South Africa-based striker Getaneh Kebede,Ã‚Â who has scored four goals in the qualifiers but missed the first leg with an ankle injury.
“The return of Getaneh is really great news. I’ve seen him in training. He’s fit and will definitely have a role in the battle,” said Ethiopia coach Sewnet Bishaw.
“I’m 100% confident of overturning the result. I’ll only play for a win. Football involves a defeat and a win. We’re defeated in the first leg doesn’t mean we’ll be defeated in the second leg.
“I’ve not finished the match. I’ve 90 minutes left to play. I’ll fight for a 2-0 win or for a 2-1 to take it in to extra-time. So, I want to remind them that it’s not over yet.” Read more