Tue, Jun 12, 2012 - Page 20 News List

African heavyweights overshadowed by Libya heroics

Reuters, CAPE TOWN

Libya’s Ahmed Zuway, right, vies for the ball with Cameroon’s Georges Mandjeck in their 2014 FIFA World Cup African qualifier at the Taieb Mhiri Stadium in Sfax, Tunisia, on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

Heavyweight contenders Egypt and Mali both came from behind to secure wins in their World Cup qualifying campaigns, but their success on Sunday was overshadowed by the heroics of strife-torn Libya.

Forced to play their home game against Cameroon on neutral territory because of security concerns, Libya again overcame the odds to beat their highly fancied opponents 2-1.

A goal three minutes into stoppage-time by Ahmed Osman ensured an unlikely win, played against the eerie backdrop of an empty stadium in Sfax, Tunisia, which was closed to spectators by local officials due to safety fears.

Libya took an early lead after Ahmed Zuway’s eighth-minute goal, but German-born Eric Choupo Moting scored for a second successive week to make it 1-1, before Osman’s late winner.

The north Africans were fairytale qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations finals earlier this year and now lead Group I in the race for places in Brazil in 2014.

Egypt had a dramatic 3-2 win away in Guinea, where Mohamed Salah netted the winner five minutes into stoppage-time in Conakry.

Egypt, who have a record seven African titles, but were last at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, top Group G after starting their campaign last weekend with a 2-0 home success over Mozambique.

Now coached by American Bob Bradley, Egypt were behind at halftime after conceding a penalty to Abdoul Razzagui Camara, but fought back with two second-half goals from veteran midfielder Mohamed Aboutrika.

The second was a penalty, awarded after Guinea goalkeeper Naby Yattara was sent off for a kung fu-style kick at Hosni Abd Rabou.

However, substitute Alhassane Bangoura equalized two minutes from time to seemingly secure a point, only for Mohamed Salah to snatch the win for the visitors.

Modibo Maiga scored an 80th-minute winner as Mali, third at the Cup of Nations this year, came from behind to beat Algeria 2-1 in Ouagadougou, the capital of neighboring Burkina Faso, where FIFA had ordered them to move the match following the recent coup d’etat in the country

There was a 2-0 home win for Ethiopia, who head Group A after Said Saladin took his goal tally in the preliminaries to three, thanks to a brace against the Central African Republic in Addis Ababa.

Tanzania needed an 84th-minute penalty to beat the Gambia 2-1 at home, while Dieumerci Mbokani marked his return to the Democratic Republic of the Congo team with the second goal, also from the spot, as they beat Togo 2-0 in Kinshasa.

Four of Sunday’s 10 qualifying games ended in draws, including a point for tiny Lesotho at home to Sudan, after they had been beaten 7-0 in Ghana last weekend.

Africa’s World Cup qualifiers take a hiatus until March next year. The top team in each of the 10 groups goes into a final round playoff round late next year.

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