Ghana, Cameroon and Senegal – the only African teams to reach soccer’s World Cup quarter-finals – have advanced to the continent’s final qualifying round for the 2014 championship in Brazil.
Needing just a point to advance, Ghana defeated Zambia 2-1 through goals by Abdul Majeed Waris and Kwadwo Asamoah to finish four points ahead of the Zambians in its group that also included Lesotho and Sudan.
Cameroon, which reached the World Cup quarter-finals in 1990, beat Libya 1-0 to clinch top place in its group while Senegal advanced through an 84th minute Sadio Mane goal.
The other qualifiers are African champions Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and Tunisia.
Europe-based forwards Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses were the goal scorers in Nigeria’s 2-0 victory over Malawi last Saturday night.
“We are truly delighted to be in the final round and we believe the Super Eagles will do the nation proud by picking one of the five tickets to represent Africa at next year’s World Cup,” said Nigeria Soccer Federation general secretary, Musa Amadu.
Ivory Coast remains unbeaten in the World Cup qualifying campaign after a 1-1 draw at home to Morocco which finished five points behind the group champions while Africa Cup of Nations runners-up Burkina Faso shut out Gabon 1-0.
Egypt took the maximum 15 points in its group that contained Guinea, Mozambique and Zambia and Algeria advanced by winning four of five matches in its group that comprised Mali, Benin and Rwanda.
A founding African Soccer Federation member, Ethiopia moved a step closer towards playing in its first World Cup finals after a come-from-behind 2-1 win over the Central African Republic in the neutral Republic of Congo.
Tunisia advanced after Cape Verde was disqualified for fielding an ineligible player in the group qualifier two week ago which Cape Verde won 2-0.
The just concluded qualifiers comprised 10 groups with four teams. The group winners will meet in five knock-out ties with the winners advancing to the World Cup.
Ghana will meet Egypt, Ivory Coast will tackle Senegal, Nigeria will oppose Ethiopia, Burkina Faso is matched against Algeria and Cameroon is pitted against Tunisia.
The first legs of the ties will take place between October 11 and 15 with the return matches to be played between November 15 and 19.