World Cup: Nigeria qualify for final phase

June 21, 2008

JOHANNESBURG, June 21 (Reuters) - Nigeria became the first side to make sure of a place in the final phase of the African qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup on Saturday.

Nigeria strode to a comfortable 2-0 win over Equatorial Guinea in Abuja to win Group Four with two more matches to go after South Africa and Sierra Leone drew 0-0 in Pretoria.

Yakubu Aiyegbeni scored just before halftime and substitute Ike Uche six minutes from time but it could have been a rout had the Super Eagles converted their numerous chances.

The victory kept up their winning run and elevated Nigeria to 12 points, out of the reach of the three other teams in the group.

Burkina Faso kept up their 100 percent record in Group Nine, beating the Seychelles 4-1 in Ouagadougou and are almost certain to secure one of the 20 berths in the final phase of the qualifiers. The 12 group winners and eight best placed runners-up advance from the first group phase, which will be completed in October.

Burkina Faso are not yet mathematically assured of top place in Group Nine after Tunisia beat Burundi 2-1 at home in Rades to stay three points adrift.

Issam Jomaa scored the winner in an uninspiring final match in charge for the veteran French coach Roger Lemerre, who departs after almost six years in charge and takes over as Morocco coach on July 1.

He will inherit a Morocco side on top of Group Eight after they ended Rwanda's unbeaten run with a 2-0 home triumph in Casablanca.

Morocco lead the east African country on goal difference after a penalty from Youssef Safri and a debut international goal from Nabil El Zhar ensured a measure of revenge after Rwanda beat them 3-1 in Kigali last weekend.

Samuel Eto'o grabbed a late winner to give Cameroon a 2-1 victory over Tanzania in their Group One game in Yaounde while Zambia needed a last minute penalty from captain Chris Katongo to beat Swaziland 1-0 in Chililabombwe for their first win in Group 11.

El Hadji Diouf scored for a second successive week to help Senegal beat Liberia 3-1 in Dakar to regain top place in Group Six, two points ahead of Algeria, who had beaten the Gambia 1-0 on Friday.

A further 13 African qualifiers are scheduled for Sunday, marking the end of a marathon month of matches on four successive weekends.