AB BASSON

During the latest international break, African teams played for places at the 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in the final qualifying round while teams from other continents continued their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaigns.

World Cup qualifiers

World champions Spain were held to a 1-1 draw by France in Madrid on 16 October. Sergio Ramos gave Spain the lead in the first half but Oliver Giroud’s 94th-minute equaliser secured a precious away point for the French.

England could only manage a 1-1 draw against Poland in a match which had been delayed by 24 hours due to a waterlogged pitch in Warsaw. Wayne Rooney had given England the lead in the 31st minute before an error in judgement from goalkeeper Joe Hart saw Poland equalise through Kamil Glik.

Germany seemed certain of making it four wins from four to move six points clear in their group after powering into a 4-0 lead against Sweden with a Miroslav Klose double and goals by Per Mertesacker and Mesut Özil before they collapsed.

Sweden struck back with two quick goals midway through the second half from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Mikael Lustig before Johan Elmander made it 4-3 after 76 minutes. The Swedes then went all out for an equaliser and it arrived in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Rasmus Elm scored.

International friendlies

2014 World Cup hosts Brazil produced masterful displays in their friendly matches against Iraq and Japan, winning 6-0 and 4-0 respectively. Veteran Kaka showed signs of rediscovering his old magic, scoring in both games, while prodigy Neymar showed just why he is being courted by Real Madrid and Barcelona, scoring a stunner against Iraq and a brace against Japan.

Bafana Bafana beat Kenya 2-1 in Nairobi with goals from Tokelo Rantie and an own goal by Christopher Wekesa. The win came five days after a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Poland in a friendly on 12 October. Marcin Komorowski won the match for Poland with a late goal to hand Gordon Igusend his second defeat as Bafana coach.

AFCON Qualifiers

Sixteen teams qualified for AFCON, which will be held in South Africa next year. Seven-time champions, Egypt, and tournament ever-present Cameroon failed to book their spots in South Africa next year. Cameroon failed to qualify for an AFCON tournament for the first time in over 30 years.

Ivory Coast has qualified after beating Senegal 6-2 on aggregate. The match was abandoned due to violence in the stands and the Confederation of African Football announced the decision to disqualify Senegal from the tournament instead of having the match replayed. Senegalese fans lit fires in the stands during the Dakar leg of the tie. Senegal was losing the second leg 2-0 when the match was abandoned.

Defending champions Zambia beat Uganda 9-8 on penalties to advance to the championship.

Images: www. cbc.ca

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