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Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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plenty to play for

By unknown | Oct 10, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Southern Africans will be keeping their fingers crossed for more representation in the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Angola.

The focus will be more on Accra and Blantyre where Swaziland (ranked 141st by Fifa) and the Flames of Malawi will be in action tomorrow in separate matches.

Isihlangu are away to 2006 World Cup finalists Togo (ranked 91st), where Shakes Mashaba's charges need victory to qualify.

But even if they don't win, Swaziland still have a great chance of qualifying for their first Afcon finals as one of the eight best second-placed countries.

Mashaba first raised the hopes of the Swazis when they beat the Emmanuel Adebayor-led Togo 2-1 in the first leg.

"The fact that Emmanuel is not in the team is a big problem for us, but we will be ready for whoever they select," said Mashaba.

"We can't drop the baton at this stage, we need to take it along to Angola in 2010. There is nothing impossible as long as you are focused on what you are doing."

In the absence of the injured Siza Dlamini, Mashaba will look to the likes of Dennis Masina and Tony Tsabedze to steer Isihlangu to Angola.

Moving to Blantyre, the Kinnah Phiri-guided Malawi also need a victory over the Democratic Republic of Congo to make it through to Luanda.

The last time Malawi, who now include the likes of Essau Kanyenda, Peter Mponda and Russel Mwafulirwa, qualified for the Afcon finals was in Ivory Coast in 1984.

Phiri, a former Free State Stars coach, said: "We just cannot afford to plunge Malawi into mourning, people here expect us to do it [qualify] and we can't let them down."

Elsewhere, Zimbabwe will hope Guinea fall against Kenya in Conakry for the Warriors to stand a chance of qualifying as one of the best second-placed teams. But Zimbabwe will first have to beat Namibia in Windhoek.

In Group Three, England-based Manucho will make his debut in the qualifiers when Afcon hosts, Angola take on Niger in Luanda. The Palancas Negras, whose coach Luis Oliveira Goncalves resigned last weekend, need a win to finish second behind Benin in the group.

As hosts, Angola have qualified automatically for the Afcon, but they are now fighting to make it to South Africa in 2010 for the World Cup.

Back to Ghana, but this time in Kumasi, where the struggling Black Stars take on pointless Lesotho.

A win will see Ghana finishing second. But that will be on condition group leaders Libya beat Gabon in Libreville.

l Ghana will be in South Africa on Monday for a date with Bafana Bafana in a friendly at Free State Stadium on Wednesday at 8pm.


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