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Defeat is too terrible to contemplate for six African minnows when they clash in 2010 World Cup qualifiers this weekend.
Failure means three years in the wilderness because the fixtures double as 2010 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and the losers will not play competitively again until late that year when qualifiers for the next edition begin.
This system has been criticised before as being too harsh on the vanquished, but the Confederation of African Football (CAF) had to cut the 51-strong field by three ahead of the second round draw on November 25 in South Africa.
And the Comoros, an island nation off the southeast coast, appear doomed to temporary oblivion having crashed 6-2 away to Madagascar last month in the first leg of a first-round tie.
The youngest member of the African football family will enjoy home advantage tomorrow as they stage a match in the capital, Moroni, for the first time, but wiping out a four-goal deficit appears far too great a task.
Madagascar have a poor away record in six World Cup qualifying challenges, winning in Namibia, drawing in Zimbabwe, losing the other nine matches, scoring eight goals and conceding 23.
After changing coaches repeatedly during a winless, goalless 2008 African Nations Cup qualifying campaign, the Malagasy turned to German coach Franz Gerber and he should be celebrating another triumph.
Guinea Bissau and Sierra Leone are much more evenly balanced, with the former enjoying home advantage and the latter defending a 1-0 advantage in another Saturday fixture.
While civil war rages in Somalia, the national team travels to another east African state, Djibouti, for a winners-take-all clash today after the first leg was cancelled.
Djibouti held the formidable Democratic Republic of Congo 1-1 at home in a 2002 qualifier only to be humiliated 9-1 in Kinshasa when the countries met again.
Somalia fell 6-0 on aggregate to Cameroon in the 2002 eliminators and 7-0 to Ghana four years later. - Sapa-AFP