Algeria, Ghana complete Africa’s flag bearers for 2014 World Cup

Ghana’s national football team supporters cheer their team before the start of the WC2014 African zone qualifier second leg play-off between Egypt and Ghana in Cairo on November 19, 2013

Algeria and Ghana on Tuesday completed the five African qualifiers for next year’s World Cup, joining Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast, who all qualified at the weekend.

This quintet is identical to Africa’s ambassadors at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Algeria did just enough to book their ticket to their fourth World Cup by beating Burkina Faso 1-0 to go through on the away goals’ rule after the first game ended 3-2 in favour of the west Africans.

It needed a scrambled effort in the 49th minute by skipper Madjid Bougherra for Algeria to book their flight to Brazil next year.

Burkina Faso, beaten finalists at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations, were resolute in defence, but offered very little going forward.

Despite losing 2-1 in Cairo, the Black Stars of Ghana qualified for a third successive World Cup, 7-3 on aggregate.

Egypt could not overcome the 6-1 humiliation they suffered at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi last month.

The Pharaohs, who last appeared at the World Cup in 1990, scored through Amr Zaki and Mohamed Gedo in either half, before substitute Kevin-Prince Boateng pulled a goal back for Ghana late on.

It was a huge disappointment for the seven-time African champions, whose American coach Bob Bradley is now expected to quit his post.

Ghana became only the third African team to reach the last eight of a World Cup four years ago,

And they will again be fancied to do well in Brazil with the return of several of their top stars like Michael Essien, Kevin-Prince Boateng and the Ayew brothers, Andre and Jordan.

Nigeria became the first African team to qualify for Brazil on Saturday when they beat Ethiopia 2-0 in the southern coastal town of Calabar to go through 4-1 on aggregate.

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi admitted nerves affected his team’s below-par showing in front of the home fans.

But Chelsea midfielder Mikel Obi has promised the African champions will cause surprises in Brazil after they were held to a thrilling 2-2 draw by Italy in a friendly in London two days later.

“The potentials are obvious, but we must avoid arrogance and complacency. With that, this team will go places,” he said.

Cameroon put aside their internal squabbles to qualify for an African record seventh World Cup in style when they trounced Tunisia 4-1 in Yaounde after the first leg finished in a goalless draw in Tunis.

The Indomitable Lions became the first African team to reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup in 1990 and would now hope to improve on their first round exit at the last tournament in South Africa.

“Cameroon are back after we were written off,” declared Roger Milla, who featured at three World Cups.

“We need to work now, set up friendlies not against small teams, we must not be scared to play against top teams like England, Portugal and Germany. It will be good for the players.”

The Ivory Coast will also hope to go beyond the first round of the competition in Brazil after they out scored fellow west Africans Senegal 4-2 on aggregate.

The Elephants led by inspirational skipper Didier Drogba were eliminated in the first round in 2006 and 2010 and in both cases they were drawn in very tough first round groups.

The draw for the 2014 World Cup will be conducted in Bahia, Brazil, on December 6.


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