By RON FANFAIR
Cameroon and South Africa will be Africa’s representatives in the women’s soccer tournament at next year’s London Olympics.
The west Central African team stunned Nigeria on penalties last weekend to clinch a place in the 12-team tournament. The score was tied 3-3 at the end of regulation and extra time.
“Our joy is immense,” said Cameroon player Francine Zouga Edoa. “What gives us the most pleasure is that we achieved this against Nigeria who stopped us from reaching the last World Cup final. Today is our turn.”
This is the first time that Nigeria will miss the Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Games.
Soccer officials in Gabon, meanwhile, have said the country is ready to co-host the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations tournament which starts in January.
“We are on time and, at the end of October, all our stadiums will be ready,” said organizing committee spokesman, Louis-Claude Moundzieoud.
New venues have been built on the outskirts of Libreville and in the south-eastern city of Franceville and work is continuing on car parking and other facilities outside the Libreville venue that will be unveiled next month when the national side opposes Brazil in a friendly international.
Following the Africa Cup of Nations competition, some of the training facilities will be handed over to the Samuel Eto’o Foundation, which is planning to open an academy and school in Libreville.
Gabon and Equatorial Guinea are co-hosting the Africa Cup of Nations tournament which takes place from January 21 to February 12.
And, Ivory Coast has maintained its place as Africa’s highest-ranked side despite dropping three places in the latest International Soccer Federation (FIFA) rankings.
Rwanda is Africa’s biggest movers, leaping 31 places to 29th in Africa and 112th globally. The top three places in Africa remained unchanged with Egypt and Ghana second and third respectively.
Benin was the biggest loser, dropping 27 places in the overall list to occupy the 199th position after losing 1-0 at home to Rwanda in their final Africa Cup of Nations qualifier this month.
FIFA president Sepp Blatter, meanwhile, has promised to release the files from a 10-year corruption scandal that could name senior officials who took millions of dollars in kickbacks. FIFA had previously stopped a Swiss court from releasing documents identifying who received payments from the former ISL marketing company that collapsed a decade ago.
Last Friday, Blatter said his executive committee, which includes members implicated in the case, will reopen the ISL dossier at a December 16-17 meeting in Tokyo.
“We will give this file to an independent organization outside of FIFA so they can delve into it and extract its conclusions and present them to us,” said Blatter.
Last year, FIFA said two senior officials repaid kickbacks worth $7 million on condition of anonymity.