Tunisia hope to avoid more shocks

Stunned Tunisia hope to get their 2010 World Cup-Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign back on track tomorrow away to minnows Seychelles.

Stunned Tunisia hope to get their 2010 World Cup-Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign back on track tomorrow away to minnows Seychelles.

The Carthage Eagles were sensational 2-1 home losers to Burkina Faso in the opening round of Group 9 matches last weekend, while Seychelles exceeded expectations by drawing 0-0 in Burundi.

But Tunisia will make the long trip to the Indian Ocean island holiday resort confident they can collect three points having triumphed 3-0 there last year in a 2008 Afcon qualifier.

France-based striker Issam Jomaa was the hat trick hero and he is in the 22-strong squad named by French coach Roger Lemerre, whose contract expires at the end of this month when Portuguese Humberto Coelho takes over.

Burkina Faso, whose victory was the major upset of the 21-match first round, host Burundi expecting to build on the shock success in Tunisia fashioned by two late goals from Norway-based striker Issouf Kone.

A feature of the opening round was the good away performances of the three Indian Ocean teams with Mauritius forcing a Group 1 draw in Tanzania and Madagascar bringing a Group 7 point back from Botswana.

Flashes in the pan or a sign of better times ahead? A lot more will be known after showdowns Sunday with heavyweights Cameroon in Curepipe and Ivory Coast in Antananarivo.

It is difficult to imagine a Cameroon side containing household names like defender Rigobert Song and striker Samuel Eto'o failing against Mauritius while Ivory Coast outplayed Madagascar 3-0 in a 2008 Afcon qualifier.

Song and Eto'o scored as Cameroon began their Group 1 programme with a 2-0 home win over the Cape Verde Islands while Didier Drogba-less Ivory Coast took 75 minutes to grab the goal that sank Mozambique in a Group 7 Abidjan clash.

Tunisia are not the only big-name football nation suffering anxiety as South Africa cannot afford to drop any points when they entertain Equatorial Guinea in a Group 4 Pretoria fixture.

While Bafana Bafana are guaranteed a place at the 2010 World Cup as hosts, they must finish among the top two to stay in contention for an Afcon slot in Angola the same year.

"They had no passion or desire, could not string together more than three passes and got their tactics wrong," was the damning verdict of former Bafana striker Shaun Bartlett after his contemporaries were outclassed in Nigeria.

While South Africa tackle poor travellers Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria visit Sierra Leone, a lowly team who could trouble the Super Eagles more than the defensively brittle and unimaginative South Africans.

Ghana were impressive 3-0 victors over Libya in Kumasi and the threat from opponents Lesotho has been diluted because their national stadium is unavailable and the Group 5 fixture switched to neighbouring South Africa.

The top 10 ranked African countries play away and Afcon titleholders Egypt appear to have the easiest task against a Djibouti team humiliated 8-1 by modest Malawi in Group 12 last weekend. - Sapa-AFP