rough ride

FILE PHOTO - Lesotho will take on Nigeria in Lesotho on Sunday 8th October 2006 for their African Cup of Nation 2008 qualifier match.Nigerian player Obafemi Martins in action against Senegal. Nigeria beat Senegal 2-1.Nigeria vs Senegal (group D match), MTN Africa Cup of Nations 0631 January 2006Port-Said Stadium, Port-Said, EgyptCredit: ©Adrian de Kock / MTNfootball.com
FILE PHOTO - Lesotho will take on Nigeria in Lesotho on Sunday 8th October 2006 for their African Cup of Nation 2008 qualifier match.Nigerian player Obafemi Martins in action against Senegal. Nigeria beat Senegal 2-1.Nigeria vs Senegal (group D match), MTN Africa Cup of Nations 0631 January 2006Port-Said Stadium, Port-Said, EgyptCredit: ©Adrian de Kock / MTNfootball.com

For Nigerian and Cameroonian football fans the last World Cup qualification campaign ended in disappointment as their teams failed to qualify for Germany 2006.

For Nigerian and Cameroonian football fans the last World Cup qualification campaign ended in disappointment as their teams failed to qualify for Germany 2006.

Though the Super Eagles had the same number of points as Angola and even had a better goal difference, they were knocked out by the head-to-head rule, having lost and drawn to their southern African rivals.

This time around the west African country is determined to make it to the finals of the first ever World Cup to be played in Africa.

But if Nigerian fans are hoping for a smooth ride down south, they could be in for a horrible surprise as the Super Eagles face stiff opposition in Group B in the African qualifiers.

Not only do they have to overcome Kenya and Mozambique, they also need to finish ahead of Tunisia, who have qualified for the past three World Cup finals.

Shaibu Amodu's side start their campaign on Sunday with a difficult away trip to Mozambique.

The Eagles of Carthage, as the Tunisian side is called, travel to Nairobi, where they face Kenya.

For Cameroon the failure to make it to Germany was even more dramatic, as they were awarded an injury-time penalty against Egypt in their last game.

Had Pierre Wome scored, the Indomitable Lions would have gone through, but as his shot crashed against the upright, the Ivory Coast qualified for the first time.

Now Otto Pfister takes his Cameroon side to Lome for their Group B clash against Togo - the side he coached at the World Cup finals in 2006.

The German coach was a controversial choice as Cameroon coach and anything but a victory will reopen the discussion surrounding his future.

Cameroon and Togo face stiff opposition for a place at the finals from Morocco, who are at home to Gabon in their opening match.

English coach Stephen Constantine, who took over the coaching reins in Sudan just over a month ago, is looking forward to taking on Mali in Group D.

The former India, Nepal and Malawi coach rates his opponents and Ghana (at home to Benin) as the favourites in the group, "but last time four of the five African teams at the finals were there for the first time".

Malawi are away to the Ivory Coast in a game nobody expects the team from southern Africa to win. But the coach of the Elephants, Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic, said he was telling his players not to underestimate their opponents.

The other two teams in the group, Burkina Faso and Guinea, face each other in Ouagadougou.

In Group C, the two favourites Egypt and Zambia face each other in their opener in Cairo, while underdogs Rwanda are at home to Algeria.

The five group winners join hosts South Africa at the 2010 World Cup finals, while the top three from each group qualify for the finals of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola. - Sapa-DPA

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