Congo and Tunisia made to wait in World Cup qualifying

Posted by Firdose Moonda

Seyllou/AFP/Getty ImagesYaya Toure displayed his aerial ability and scored in Ivory Coast's 3-0 win at Gambia.

A thrilling weekend of World Cup qualifiers played out across the African continent and it gave no guaranteed advances. Although some teams are completely out of contention, neither Congo nor Tunisia gained the points they needed to be assured of a place in the final stage of qualifying.

- Egypt almost there, Groups I and J wide open

Football Africa takes a look at Groups A to E and the situation going forward:

Group A

Ethiopia remained on top of the group with a 2-1 win over Botswana. Both their goals came in the first half, the second through Saladin Said. He notched up his fourth of the campaign to put Ethiopia in prime position to advance to their first World Cup.

Ethiopia's match against South Africa this weekend will determine which side wins the group. Addis Ababa is the venue for that enconter and Ethiopia are favourites, but Bafana Bafana are on a high after showing they can win on the road. They overcame the Central African Republic by an unusually high margin with a 3-0 win in Cameroon.

The match was played on neutral territory because of the security situation in Bangui. Despite tough trip that included a cancelled flight and redirected road travel, South Africa prevailed.

Group B

A 90th-minute goal from Fakhreddine Ben Yousuf ensured Tunisia held Sierra Leone to a 2-2 draw to make it difficult for anyone else to top the pool. The Leone Stars needed a win to stay within touching distance and led twice but could not hold on each time.

It remains mathematically possible for them to leapfrog Tunisia but they will need the North Africans to lose their next two matches. A win for Tunisia over Equatorial Guinea next weekend will see them confirmed in the final round.

The group’s other match was a contest between the two teams who definitely cannot go any further. Cape Verde beat Equatorial Guinea 2-1 and the result will probably be important for showing their African Nations Cup performance in the year is being built upon.

Group C

Tanzania’s dream run in qualifying came to an end when they were beaten 2-1 by Morocco. The Atlas Lions led 2-nil shortly after halftime through a penalty but Tanzania managed a consolation goal. They needed to win to stay in touch with Ivory Coast and this result has set back their World Cup ambitions significantly, especially given the Elephants' performance.

They marched to a 3-0 win over Gambia with their names firing in the absence of Didier Drogba. Lacina Traore, Wilfried Bony and Yaya Toure all scored. Should they beat Tanzania next week, Ivory Coast will have negated the challenge and will advance to the next stage.

Group D

The most interesting of the groups sees two heavyweights go toe-to-toe and it’s likely it will stay that way until the last round. Ghana set the tone when they beat Sudan 3-1 with two goals coming from Asamoah Gyan.

Zambia showed that anything the Black Stars can do, they can do better. Jacob Mulenga’s brace saw them run riot in Lesotho, who they beat 4-0. They lead the group but only one point separates them from Ghana.

They avoid playing against each other until the very end of qualifying and that could be the decisive fixture. Zambia host Sudan next and given their current form, will fancy beating them while Ghana travel to Lesotho where they will push for nothing less than a big win.

Group E

The darlings of the group, Congo, could not maintain their winning streak but they were not defeated either. They would probably take the goalless draw against Gabon, given the absence of their defender Christopher Samba, who withdrew on the eve of the match.

Jonathan Pitroipa gave Burkina Faso a 1-0 win over Niger which has kept them within range of Congo but it will take a big effort to overcome them. The teams square off next week and if Congo win, they will advance.

Tuesday: Looking at Groups F-J

ESPN Conversations