Dismal tale of two host nations

Sello Rabothata

Sello Rabothata

If surprise 2006 Fifa World Cup qualifiers Angola were not hosts of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations tournament they would be in danger of missing the party.

Like their southern African neighbours Bafana Bafana, the Angolans are experiencing a nightmare campaign as fellow Group 3 contenders Uganda make giants strides towards qualifying for the continental showpiece and World Cup that same year.

After having beaten the southwest Africans 3-1 at home, Uganda came down and held the Negras Palancras to a goalless draw in an away encounter.

They now have to win their last match away against Benin at all costs and hope Niger upset Uganda to be in contention for a top two finish.

As the qualifiers go into recess until September, the African Soccer Television show this week screens some of the highlights of the games on SABC1 Sport's Laduma programme on Sunday.

While the two so-called southern Africa soccer giants are in dire straits, not so for Ephraim "Shakes" Mashaba's Isihlangu in the tiny kingdom of Swaziland, who are enjoying a fairy tale ride and making history.

They have already beaten the Emmanuel Adebayor-led Togo 1-0 and the Arsenal star and his teammates left Swaziland with their tails between their legs.

They then held Zambia's Chipolopolo to a goalless draw, giving them four points and a good chance of further progress.

The Swazis are over the moon and Mashaba seems headed for a longer contract to guide Isihlangu while South Africa, who dumped him unceremoniously in favour of foreigners, are struggling in Group 4.

Other highlights on the show are those of Zimbabwe's scoreless stalemate against Kenya.

In Group 5, Gabon caused a stir with a 2-0 pasting of Ghana's Black Stars while Lesotho narrowly lost to Libya who pipped them 1-0.

In Group 7 Botswana were held to a 1-1 draw by Ivory Coast.