Sat, Mar 28, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Adebayor looks to sink Cameroon

FAMILIAR FACES Cameroon coach Otto Pfister will be looking to put one over the team he led at the 2006 World Cup, with Samuel Eto’o spearheading his attack

AFP , JOHANNESBURG

Ivorian striker Didier Drogba takes part in a training session on Thursday at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan ahead of Ivory Coast’s World Cup 2010 qualifying match against Malawi today.

PHOTO: AFP

Sharpshooter Emmanuel Adebayor returns to a favorite hunting ground today when Togo confront Cameroon as the 2010 World Cup-African Nations Cup qualifying competition enters its final phase. Adebayor abandoned a brief “retirement” from international soccer last October to strike terror into the hearts of Swaziland by scoring four goals in a 6-0 Accra romp that clinched a place among 20 survivors.

The scene of the one-man demolition act was the 45,000-capacity Ohene Djan Stadium in the Ghanaian capital, where Togo stage home matches because Lome is off limits after violence following a defeat by Mali two years ago.

Whether Adebayor can have the same impact against five-time World Cup qualifiers Cameroon is doubtful, though, and tradition is against Togo as they have lost all four previous World Cup clashes with the Indomitable Lions.

Togo did defy the odds by reaching the 2006 World Cup because Adebayor is the sole star among players drawn from Belgium, England, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Iran, Moldova, Norway, Romania and the United Arab Emirates.


VETERAN COACH

Cameroon boast a far stronger “spine” of goalkeeper Idriss Kameni, defender Rigobert Song, midfielder Jean Makoun and three-time African Footballer of the Year Samuel Eto’o up front. And veteran German coach Otto Pfister will not lack knowledge of his rivals having coached Togo at the 2006 World Cup in Germany where they lost their three pool games amid a series of bonus-related rows.

Cameroon are the only top seeds in action today as Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria begin their six-match schedules tomorrow with five places at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa up for grabs.

The other Group A fixture in Casablanca brings together two French coaches with Roger Lemerre guiding four-time qualifiers Morocco and Alain Giresse in charge of outsiders Gabon.

Morocco missed the last two editions of the World Cup and the only coach to win the Euro Championship and African Nations Cup acknowledged expectations are high.

“We have an obligation to qualify for all big tournaments,” Lemerre said.

Hull City striker and Gabon star Daniel Cousin set his sights marginally lower.

“I think Cameroon will finish top but we are capable of coming second ahead of Morocco and Togo,” he said.

Kenya have recalled 35-year-old defender Musa Otieno and made him captain for a Group B Nairobi showdown with Tunisia, whose coach Humberto Coelho fears the effects of playing 1,600m above sea level.

Another fixture involving countries from the north and east brings Algeria to Kigali for a Group C clash against Rwanda, whose 3-1 home win over Morocco in the second round mocked their “minnows” status.

INJURED STARS

Mali will sorely miss injured midfield stars Mahamadou Diarra and Mohammed Sissoko when they take on Sudan in Omdurman for the second time in the competition, having lost 3-2 last year.

Burkina Faso, whose 2-1 triumph in Tunisia ranked among the biggest shocks of the last round, have blossomed under Portuguese coach Paolo Duarte and are favored to collect maximum points when Guinea visit Ouagadougou.

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