Underdogs eager to upset African giants


Kampala. Continental body Caf’s resolution to grow the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) from 16 to 24 teams leaves success rate in the ongoing qualification process at 50 percent.
Half of the 48 teams (47 if Sierra Leone is thrown out) will be at the 32nd Afcon edition in Cameroon, mathematics that the minnows welcome with open arms.
After two Match Days, no team has peeled away across the 12 groups of four each. Actually, the race has unexpectedly been tight for instance in Group F where each of the four teams Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana and Sierra Leone had won one and lost one apiece. Only four teams; Mali, Guinea, Mauritania and Tunisia carried maximum points heading the marathon spell of qualifiers that begun early this week.
Bar 2004 Afcon winners Tunisia and 1976 runners-up Mali, most giants in the game are yet to settle in.
And heading into a pivotal Day Three and Four, the underdogs are quietly planning to pull the rug under the feet of the big guns.
The double-header encounters which go until Tuesday present a make or break situation. This six-pointer bridge will see a few teams confirm places in Cameroon with others buried.
Uganda may be top of Group L but Cranes coach Sebastien Desabre is yet to have a competitive win since signing up for the assignment a few to New Year’s Day.
So the Frenchman won’t let Lesotho extend his misery in Namboole today or even in Maseru. Cranes picked four points off the Crocodiles during the 2008 qualification phase.
In Group E, Nigeria has chance to come out of Libya’s shadow should they do the double over 1982 runners-up this evening in Kaduna and Sfax on Tuesday.

Tied on four points
Libya picked a vital point after a goalless draw away in South Africa and both are tied on four points, one ahead of the Super Eagles.
However, the Mediterranean Knights parted ways with coach Adel Amrouche on grounds of unpaid wages, something that could spark self-destruction at a crucial stage of the campaign. Nigeria has qualified for Afcon since 2013 while Libya last made it in 2012.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Bafana Bafana should find no excuses in skipping the Seychelles hurdle, first at the FNB Stadium, Johannesburg this afternoon.

Irrespective, the island nation will want to be boss at home in Victoria on Tuesday.
Still speaking underdogs, three-time Afcon finalists Zimbabwe are setting the pace in Group G ahead of two-time winners DR Congo with better goal difference and no better time to welcome their top-of-table clash.
DR Congo’s Florent Ibenge is banking on European-based quartet of Yannick Bolasie, Chancel Mbemba, Neeskens Kebano and Arthur Masuka to maximise home advantage in Kinshasa today. Nottingham Forest’s Tendayi Darikwa is keen to bolster Zimbabwe’s defence on his first cap.
When Guinea-Bissau broke the curse to reach their maiden Afcon finals in Gabon last year, it appeared as a flash in the pan. Leading Group K at the start of the week, the Djurtus appear to be riding on the back of a golden generation.
Bissau, however, lost 2-1 away to Zambia on Wednesday but they will want to avenge when they host the Chipolopolo, who have struggled since lifting the crown in 2012, next week. Shocks are expected elsewhere across the continent.

Uganda vs. Lesotho (SS9, 4PM)
South Africa vs. Seychelles (SS4/10, 4PM)
Mozambique vs. Namibia (SS7, 6PM)
Nigeria vs. Libya (SS9, 6PM)
DR Congo vs. Zimbabwe (SS9, 8.30PM)
Kenya vs. Ethiopia (SS9, 4PM)
Guinea-Bissau vs. Zambia (SS9, 7PM)
Mozambique vs. Namibia (SS7, 6PM)


3 Goals: Paulin Voavy (Madagascar), Knowledge Musona (Zimbabwe)
2 Goals:
Gelson (Angola), Aristide Bance (Burkina Faso), El Fardou Nabouhane (Comoros), Thievy Bifouma (Congo), Cedric Bakambu (DR Congo), Seydou Doumbia (Ivory Coast), Mohamed Salah (Egypt), Raphael Dwamena (Ghana), Carlos Andriamatsinoro ne Faneva Ima (Madagascar), Youssef En-Nesyri (Morocco), Moussa Sow (Senegal), James Moga (South Sudan), Taha Yassine Khenissi (Tunisia)


Team P W D L F A Pts
Libya 2 1 1 0 5 1 4
South Africa 2 1 1 0 2 0 4
Nigeria 2 1 0 1 3 2 3
Seychelles 2 0 0 2 1 8 0

Team P W D L F A Pts
Kenya 3 1 1 1 2 2 4
Ethiopia 3 1 1 1 1 5 4
Ghana 2 1 0 1 5 1 3
Sierra Leone 2 1 0 1 2 2 3

Team P W D L F A Pts
Zimbabwe 2 1 1 0 4 1 4
DR Congo 2 1 1 0 4 2 4
Congo 2 0 1 1 2 4 1
Liberia 2 0 1 1 1 4 1

*Statistics do not include Friday results


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