2013 African Cup of Nations qualifiers: Sunday’s play-off Previews
The second leg of the final round of 2013 African Cup of Nations qualifiers take place on Sunday.
Seven ties were concluded on Saturday and there are eight more on Sunday – Cameroon wil be looking to overturn a two-goal deficit against Cape Verde, while Algeria go into the home leg of their north African derby against Libya with a 1-0 lead.
Ethiopia v Sudan
Addis Ababa, kick-off 13:00 GMT. First leg score: 3-5
Ethiopia seemingly have a mountain to climb. Looking to shut out Sudan and score at least two goals, the hosts need a commanding defensive performance, but they have been dealt a triple blow.
First-choice goalkeeper Sisay Bancha is suspended and his replacement Dereje Alemu injured his leg in training, leaving Ethiopia to turn to Zerihun Tadele or Jemal Tasew.
Defender Abebaw Butako misses out after picking up two bookings in the first game, so Yared Zinabu comes in to fill the gap.
Up front, Ethiopia will put their faith in Egypt-based striker Saladin Seid, who took no part in the first match because of an injury, but is now fully fit and said to be in good form in training.
Ethiopia coach Sewnet Bishaw insists his side can pull off a sensational comeback and qualify for the tournament for the first time in 31 years.
Sudan could go into the game with spirits low after their recent punishment by Fifa for fielding an ineligible player in their World Cup qualifier against Zambia in June. Sudan were stripped of their 2-0 win and the three points, with Zambia handed a 3-0 victory.
With a two-goal lead to defend – and a place at a major tournament finals at stake – Sudan will be eager to bounce back.
Cameroon v Cape Verde
Yaounde, kick-off 14:00 GMT. First leg score: 0-2
Cameroon will be delighted that striker Samuel Eto’o is back in the squad after missing the first leg in protest at the national team’s set-up, as they seek to overturn a two-goal deficit.
The Indomitable Lions’ talisman missed training earlier in the week, but returned on Thursday.
New coach Jean-Paul Akono said: “He had a small knock on his calf, which led to some swelling.
“The medical staff thought it best to give him a 24-hour rest. I think those 24 hours did him good since he resumed training and played as if he was not injured.”
Eto’o is back, but one man definitely missing is former coach Denis Lavagane, who was sacked after the first leg defeat. The responsibility of rescuing the four-time Cup of Nations winners from what would be a massive upset lies with Akono.
Cape Verde are on the verge of a stunning achievement, particularly when you consider their population totals about 500,000 people. But football in the islands has been rapidly improving over the last decade. They have risen from 182 in Fifa’s world rankings to their current position of 51.
A large part of the reason for that is the fact that nearly all the Blue Sharks squad are now regularly experiencing high-level, competitive football.
“We now have about 90 per cent of our squad members who are playing at clubs in Europe,” said coach Luis Antunes. “These are professional players who are desperate to show what they can do at the Cup of Nations finals.”
Equatorial Guinea v DR Congo
Malabo, kick-off 15:00 GMT. First leg score: 0-4
After taking a hammering in the first leg, Equatorial Guinea may see this second leg as purely an exercise in damage limitation.
Their Brazilian coach Gilson Paulo took over the reins in January and steered them to the quarter-finals of the Cup of Nations earlier this year. However, it is unlikely they will not get the chance to emulate that result in South Africa.
DR Congo are a team in form, with the two-time African champions enjoying a resurgence that is in part led by a group of Belgium-based players.
One of whom, Anderlecht forward Dieumerci Mbokani, was inspiration in the first leg, scoring twice and having a hand in the other goals. He is likely to be a major threat again.
Angola v Zimbabwe
Luanda, kick-off 15:00 GMT. First leg score: 1-3
Zimbabwe will be strengthened with the availability of Sudan-based striker Edward Sadomba, who was cleared this week of match-fixing.
Also available will be two in-form South Africa-based forwards, Cuthbert Malajila and Kingstone Nkatha, as well as goalkeeper Energy Murambadoro.
The Warriors will be glad to have Murambadoro back in the squad, with first-choice keeper and captain, Tapuwa Kapini, out injured for several months. Coach Rahman Gumbo has also drafted in stopper Ephraim Mazarura.
Niger v Guinea
Niamey, kick-off 15:00 GMT. First leg score: 0-1
Niger will hope to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg to qualify for only their second appearance at a Cup of Nations tournament. New coach Gernot Rohr coached co-hosts Gabon at the tournament finals earlier this year.
Meanwhile, Guinea are aiming for a 12th appearance at the continental showpiece. They finished third in their group in this year’s tournament held in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
Togo v Gabon
Lome, kick-off 15:30 GMT. First leg score: 1-1
Togo are hoping for a return appearance at a Cup of Nations finals, with their tie firmly in the balance against Gabon.
The Togolese failed to qualify for the 2012 finals, and withdrew in 2010 because of the fatal gun attack on their team bus in Cabinda, Angola.
Gabon reached the quarter-finals on home soil earlier in the year and are seeking to top that performance by qualifying for South Africa 2013.
Burkina Faso v Central African Republic
Ouagadougou, kick-off 18:00 GMT. First leg score: 0-1
Central African Republic, who have jumped from 200 in the Fifa rankings in 2009 to 49 in the latest standings, have a 1-0 first-leg lead against Burkina Faso, having upset seven-time winners Egypt in the first round of qualifiers.
Burkina Faso reached the semi-finals in 1998, losing to eventual champions Egypt.
Algeria v Libya
Blida, kick-off 19:30 GMT. First leg score: 1-0
The north African derby is one of the most attractive ties of the final day of qualifying.
Algeria, who won the trophy in 1990 on home turf, missed out on qualification for Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
They will hope to deny Libya a second consecutive finals appearance.
The Mediterranean Knights were beaten finalists on home turf in 1982, losing to Ghana on penalties.
They were originally chosen as hosts for the 2013 finals, but will now perform those duties in 2017, after South Africa were chosen as replacements, due to security concerns.