JOHANESBURG: Tunisia scored early and Nigeria late on Sunday to ensure a thrilling
2010 World Cup Group B qualifying race in Africa will go down to the wire next month.
France-based striker Issam Jomaa struck in the first minute as Tunisia won 1-0 against Kenya in Rades while Victor Nsofor from Spanish club Malaga netted three minutes into stoppage time as Nigeria pipped Mozambique 1-0 in Abuja.
These results left the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia two points above the Super Eagles of Nigeria with the leaders after the November 14 final fixtures qualifying for the world tournament in South Africa. Tunisia visit Mozambique and Nigeria travel to Kenya and while the two hosts have been out of the World Cup reckoning for some time, they are fighting for third spot and a place at the 2010 African Nations Cup in Angola.
All seemed lost for three-time World Cup qualifiers Nigeria as a dour tussle with well-organised and slick Mozambique drifted into additional time at a far-from-full 60,000-seat National Stadium. But the Mambas (Snakes) resistance finally cracked after 93 minutes when a parry by goalkeeper Joao Kapango was crossed into the goalmouth and unmarked 22-year-old Nsofor nodded in.
Tunisia, who came from behind twice to force a draw in Nigeria last month, made the perfect start with unmarked Jomaa heading past goalkeeper Willis Ochieng just 60 seconds into the first half. But the North African team seeking a record-equalling fourth consecutive World Cup appearance by an African team, could not build on the early advantage and must win in Maputo to be certain of qualifying.
Ghana, who last month became the first African country to qualify for the 2010 finals after hosts South Africa, surrendered the last 100 per cent record in the final round when losing 1-0 against Benin in Cotonou.
The Benin ‘Squirrels’ were impressively led by striker Razack Omotoyossi and dominated without reward until France-baesd striker Mohamed Aoudou scored two minutes into stoppage time. While the match was meaningless for the World Cup, victory took Benin to seven points and boosted their chances of finishing among the top three and qualifying for the Nations Cup.
WORLD CUP QUALIFYING RESULTS:
Nigeria 1, Mozambique 0; Tunisia 1, Kenya 0; Algeria 3, Rwanda 1; Benin 1, Ghana 0; Mali 1, Sudan 0; Ghana 2, Guinea 1; Bolivia 2, Brazil 1.
Macedonia 2, Qatar 1.
Bolivia down Brazil
LA PAZ: Brazil, already qualified for the World Cup, had no answer to a lively Bolivia playing at high altitude and went down 2-1 here in the Andes on Sunday. The Brazilians were 1-0 down after just 10 minutes when Edgar Olivares netted. Werder Bremen’s Marcelo Martins doubled the deficit on the half-hour and although Nilmar pulled one back for the visitors after 70 minutes the result never looked in doubt.
Coach Dunga blamed the 3,600-metre location of La Paz — the world’s highest capital. “Playing up here is not easy without acclimatisation,” the Brazilian said after watching his side’s run of 11 straight victories and 19 games undefeated come to an end.
Bolivia have become adept at exploiting
the altitude and downed Argentina 6-1 here in April, but they lie one from bottom of the South America zone group with just 15 points.
Brazil top the group with 33 points and play at home against Venezuela in their final qualifying
tie on Wednesday.
Bolivia are away at bottom team Peru. — AFP