GHANA and Ivory Coast are set to fill two of the five places reserved for Africa at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Seeking a second successive appearance at the tournament, both boast 100percent records halfway through the final qualifying phase and two of their remaining three fixtures are at home.
Nigeria and Algeria are looking good in other groups while Gabon have made an unexpectedly impressive start and could prove the shock qualifiers from Group A. They are out in front followed by shock 2006 qualifiers Togo, and favourites Morocco and Cameroon, bottom of the group with a single point, struggling to make an impression.
A Cameroon team featuring superstar Samuel Eto'o will need to defeat Gabon twice in four days in September to stay in contention while Morocco also appear doomed with just two points.
In Group B Nigeria are well placed for a fourth trip to the World Cup in five attempts after forcing a goalless draw with pacesetters Tunisia last weekend, while Kenya and Mozambique appear to be out of the reckoning.
Nigeria need to defeat Tunisia at home in September to take over top place and leave them needing victories over Mozambique (home) and Kenya (away) to be sure of staying there.
Group C is another group where form is proving unreliable with African champions and firm favourites Egypt propping up the standings, having secured a solitary point from two outings.
The Pharaohs now face the daunting task of winning four consecutive games - including visits to Kigali and Chililabombwe - just to draw level with Algeria.
After failing to impress in a narrow home win over Benin marred by a bonus row, Ghana triumphed in Mali and Sudan to take a firm grip on Group D and it is hard to imagine the "Black Stars" not reaching South Africa.
Powered by Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien, the west Africans will clinch top place with home wins over Sudan and Mali.
In Group E, Didier Drogba-inspired Ivory Coast won in Guinea and Burkina Faso to take a stranglehold on what is arguably the weakest group, with Malawi out of their depth. Burkina Faso have faded after a bright start, but are still second. - Sapa-AFP