Africa’s World Cup Teams

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FIVE African teams booked their places in the 2006 World Cup finals after coming out tops in the final group World Cup qualifiers played over the weekend. Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Tunisia all sailed through in their qualifying campaign joining more than 20 other world teams that will battle it out in Germany next year.

Tunisia won a vital point when the team which twice trailed Morocco at home fought back and clawed back to draw 2-2 to win the African zone Group Five.
Morocco needed a win to qualify secure a place in the 2006 world football showcase. But the Moroccans failed and this allowed for the Tunisia to make its third successive appearance at the World Cup.

Africa carried all the soccer drama over the weekend.  Cote d'Ivoire subdued World Cup favorites Cameroon when the Indomitable Lions missed a last minute penalty and drew 1-1 with Egypt allowing the Ivorians to finish at the top of Group Three. The Ivorians beat the Sudanese 3-1 on their home turf securing them the vital points that parachuted them to the top spot.

Togo came from behind to beat Congo 3-2 away in Brazzaville and finish two points clear of Senegal in Group One. Senegal beat Mali 3-0 while Ghana's 4-0 drubbing of Cape Verde Islands propelled them to the top of Group Two effectively giving them a slot in Germany.

Angola won 1-0 away in Rwanda to finish top of Group Four ahead of the Super Eagles of Nigeria who despite their 5-1 massacre of Zimbabwe in Abuja crushed out of the 2006 World Cup race. There are four first timers qualifying for the World Cup–Togo, Angola, Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire.

Wild celebrations erupted in Angola as the country, better known for a more than two-and-half decade bruising civil war which killed more than one million people, basked in the glory of having made it for the first time in its history to the world's biggest soccer stage. Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos described the victory as "a moment of huge emotion" and "the realization of part of our dream." Angola's ruling party the MPLA gave the squad US$150 000 as an incentive for the game against Rwanda.

Togo president Faure Gnassingbe declared Monday (10 October) as a "paid holiday across the country" to celebrate the country's qualification to the World Cup soccer finals. 

Tsiko is The Black Star News’s Southern Africa correspondent based in Harare, Zimbabwe. Please send comments to letters@blackstarnews.com

 

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