A preview of 2014 FIFA world cup qualification playoff African zone return fixture

November 13, 2013 6:55 pm0 comments by:

1270583_FULL-LNDIn recent months and weeks, the talk is whether Brazil will be ready to host the 2014 World Cup. The organisers are convinced that the stadiums will be completed and ready on 12th June 2014.The media are not so confident that the infrastructure will be fully completed but expect the World Cup to start on time.

In the mist of issue with preparations, 10 African nations are still looking for qualification berths. The 10 nations Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia will focus entirely on their return leg matches scheduled between 15th and 19th  November 2013. They 5 nations that win the play-offs will direct their frustrations to the organisers and FIFA. The 5 qualifiers need to plan ahead for hotel accommodation and provide guidance for their fans.

Ghana and Ivory Coast are almost assured of their place based on the first leg played between 12th and 15th October 2013. Nigeria, Cote d Ivoire and Burkina Faso go into their return leg with a lead and look favourites. However, the match between Cameroon and Tunisia finished as a goal less draw and is difficult to call. The squads for the return leg have been announced with the usual surprise recalls. All the coaches hope to be celebrating once the final whistle is blown for their respective match.

In my view, I will like the best 5 African teams in the playoff draw to qualify and represent the continent next year. I am experienced enough to know this may not happen come 20th November 2013. Football is a funny old game and can spring surprises when you lest expect it.

Nevertheless, I predict the 5 African nations Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Ghana and Burkina Faso, will qualify and brief reasons. I will start with the first game scheduled for 16:00 on 16th November 2013 between Nigeria and Ethiopia. The first leg ended in 2 -1 in favour Nigeria at Addis Ababa. Nigeria was behind in 56th minutes but equalised after 67 minutes, before taking the lead in the 90th minute.

I predict the return leg will follow a similar pattern especially with the return of Ethiopia’s top striker Getaneh Kebede for the second leg. Nigeria should withstand early home pressure and score at least 2 goals. They have a better attacking threat and will be motivated to entertain the home fans. This will leave spaces at the Nigerian defence but they will score more goals than away team Ethiopia. This should guarantee Nigeria qualification.

Senegal plays as the home team against Cote d’ Ivoire on the same day 16th November 2013 but at a later time 19:00. The match will be played at Casablanca, Morocco due to Senegal’s home stadium ban. Cote d’ Ivoire take a 3-1 lead going towards the match and without their influential Midfielder Cheick Tiote. He picked up a card in the first leg that ruled him out for the return leg.
I will be surprised, if Cote d’Ivoire does not qualify from the tie. I predict a low score line or a scored draw as the away team try to defend their lead. The problem for the home team Senegal is that their main strikers are struggling to score goals.

The game between Cameroon against Tunisia is played on 17th November 2013 at 15:30. I was lucky enough to watch live the first leg match. Both teams had chances to take a lead or at least score. It will be easier to predict a similar pattern for the second leg. However, Cameroon will qualify as their attacking players are in much better form now than Tunisia. The second leg match will be won and lost on which team are effective in front of goal. I will not be surprised if the second leg match ends in a penalty shoot out.

If the match between Cameroon and Tunisia is close to call. The second leg match scheduled for 18:00 on 19th November 2013 is a done deal for Ghana. They demolished Egypt at Kumasi 6-1 and will go into the return leg assured virtually of qualification.

The Ghana squad has been improved with the inclusion of attacking duo Kevin-Prince Boateng and Dominic Adiyiah. Egypt will go into the match knowing a miracle is needed to overturn the deficit. However, it is mathematically possible but unrealistic as Ghana will know what to do once it is looking likely to occur. Bob Bradley the Egyptian Coach admitted in a post interview after the first leg that the World Cup dream looks impossible. I predict that Ghana will lose the game but qualify on goals aggregate.

The final playoff qualifier is on 19:15 and is between Algeria and Burkina Faso. This will be played in Blida. The first leg ended in 3-2 in favour of Burkina Faso but the reverse may end in a 2-1 win to Algeria. Historically, Algeria is difficult to beat at home and won all 3 home fixtures during the Group phase. Burkina Faso won 2 and lost 1 away fixture. I predict Burkina Faso might sneak a win but it is likely to be a slim win to Algeria.

In summary, my predictions are for Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Ghana and Burkina Faso to qualify and represent the Mighty Africa. I suspect a few readers may disagree with one or two of my predictions. Please feel free to comment and reasons for your disagreement.

Obioma Aguocha
Self Publisher:The Guide to being the Best (Paperback) 2007 & Sporting Success Simplified (E-book) 2012

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