The scoreline suggests Nigeria have much to celebrate, but their 6-1 win over Tahiti was nothing more than routine. The curtain has been raised on their Confederations Cup campaign and now they can get on with the business of challenging for a place in the semifinals. Nigeria were always expected to beat Oceania's champions. The harsh reality is that everyone in the group is expected to. Tahiti's fairy tale is heartwarming but that is not enough to ensure they won't be on the receiving end of many goals in this tournament.
World Cup candidates became much clearer in Africa this weekend as five of the groups were decided. The winners of those pools will go into the final round of qualification - ten, two-legged ties - and aggregate victory against one opponent will see them through to Brazil. For the rest, September will be their reckoning. The match-ups are eye-catching with Zambia and Ghana to decide Group D in a straight shootout, Burkina Faso and Gabon to battle it out in the hope Niger can trip up Congo in Group E, Nigeria have to beat Malawi to advance from Group F, Libya and Cameroon go head to head in Group I and Senegal will hope to fight off Uganda in Group J.
Nigeria have already battled jetlag twice in the last couple of weeks and won. After their trans-Atlantic journey for nothing more than a friendly match in late May, they drew with their higher ranked opponents, Mexico. More impressive was that they returned to the continent to beat Kenya in a World Cup qualifier following a three-day, 22,000 kilometre journey back. But it all went downhill from there. A draw against Namibia put their World Cup ambitions on pause and pay disputes which erupted afterwards delayed their travel to Brazil for the Confederations Cup.
Nigeria could have headed to the Confederations Cup with the certainty they they had put themselves in the best position possible to make a return trip next June. Victory over a Namibian side rocked by their new coach’s surprise resignation in a World Cup qualifier would have assured Nigeria a spot in the final round but all they could manage on the eve of their departure was a 1-1 draw and a row over player bonuses which has reportedly disrupted the team's journey to the tournament. It means Nigeria’s group, F, will go down to the last weekend in September where they must beat minnow challengers Malawi to advance.
Egypt are the only team to maintain a 100% record after four rounds of Africa's World Cup qualifiers. Their 4-2 win over Zimbabwe kept them at the top of their pool but Guinea's 6-1 thrashing of Mozambique means they will have to wait for later in the week to try and secure a playoff place. - Part 1: Congo and Tunisia made to wait - Egyptian Mido announces his retirement Football Africa runs its eye over the second set of groups from F to J to see who could make the trip to Brazil. Group F The matches between Nigeria and Kenya and Nambia and Malawi were played on Thursday with the Super Eagles 1-0 win assuring they broke free of the chasing pack.
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.
The first time Benni McCarthy got into the 18-yard area and it mattered, there was perfect symmetry because he 18 years old. It was 1995 and he was playing for the now-defunct Seven Stars football club in Cape Town, South Africa. It was his only league goal that season but it was the one that put him on the professional football map. He was a kid from a poor town, Hanover Park, where the living was rough and the prospects few, but he had talent. So much so that when the club folded, they took him to their new 18 area, Ajax Cape Town, formed as a feeder side to the Dutch team of the same name.
African champions Nigeria assumed a commanding position on the road to Brazil 2014 on Wednesday when they beat Kenya 1-0 in Nairobi. They were helped by Malawi's flames being dulled by a severely depleted Namibian side in a goalless draw. Nigeria have broken away in the group and are now two points clear of the chasing pack. The result will be a massive relief to Stephen Keshi, who was faced with a plethora of problems going into the game. The friendly against Mexico on Friday night was the source of almost all of those woes, but Keshi watched them dim into nothingness as Ahmed Musa's chip beat Duncan Ochieng.
Ethiopia were one of the founding fathers of the official framework of African football and were crowned champions in 1962, but they have never had a club in the group stages of a continental cup competition, until now. Saint George will play in the CAF Confederation Cup, despite losing to Egyptian side ENPPI 3-1 in the second leg, by virtue of away goals. Much like AC Leopards, who won the Confederation Cup last year, are in CAF Champions League main draw this time and represent an overall rise in Congolese football, Saint George are doing the same for Ethiopia.
FIFA left a two-million-dollar mark in Mauritius this week. Apart from granting the Indian Ocean island nation the right to host the organization's 63rd Congress, it also completed its fourth goal project in the country with the installation of a football pitch. Mauritius now houses one of the best training complexes in Africa as they seek to improve their ranking from 189th in the world and begin to compete with some of the best. But the big spending is not the African development this this year's conference will be most remembered for -- it is the appointment of Burundi's Lydia Nsekera as the first woman on the decision-making executive committee who will be associated with the Mauritius meeting from now on.
It's difficult to believe the African country that lays claims to having the first football club on the continent only launched a professional league two-and-a-half-years ago. Algeria's Club Athletique Liberte d'Oran was founded by settlers in 1898 and is listed as a pioneer of the game in this part of the world. On September 24, 2010, Algeria's Ligue Professionnelle 1 and 2 kicked off to a mass audience at both home and abroad, amongst expats who were glued to television sets. It was not a new concept, in that it featured clubs fans were familiar with but its importance was in creating an official structure for the game to be played.
Football on the continent endured a particularly blue Monday after an incident filled weekend. Two stand out: Ghana's Asamoah Gyan missed out on a top prize and Didier Drogba's battle with racism continued. The outrage over both is almost equal although perhaps the first should not be taken as seriously as the second. Gyan was not named the UAE's international player of the year despite breaking the record for the most goals scored in a season in the country's top-flight -- 31. The feat was even more remarkable because Gyan missed almost ten weeks of the season: six because of his involvement in the African Nations' Cup and four with a thigh strain.