ghana cruise in qualifiers

GHANA could become the first African qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup this weekend while fellow giants Cameroon and Egypt need maximum points to keep alive hopes of reaching South Africa.

GHANA could become the first African qualifiers for the 2010 World Cup this weekend while fellow giants Cameroon and Egypt need maximum points to keep alive hopes of reaching South Africa.

The "Black Stars" of Ghana will secure a second successive appearance at the football showpiece if they defeat lowly Sudan at home in Group D and the fixture between Benin and Mali is drawn.

Cameroon, whose five World Cup appearances is an African record, made a disastrous start to the final qualifying phase, taking one point from a possible six and need a win away to shock Group A pacesetters Gabon.

Egypt, winners of the last two Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) tournaments, are once again struggling in the World Cup and failure to collect three points in Rwanda could virtually end hopes of topping Group C.

There are seven other fixtures tomorrow and Sunday in the fourth series of matches as 20 teams split into five groups chase five places alongside automatic qualifiers South Africa.

The Black Stars have taken a surprisingly early stranglehold on the mini-league.

After labouring to a 1-0 home win over Benin against the background of a bonus dispute, Michael Essien-inspired Ghana travelled to Mali and Sudan and returned with impressive 2-0 triumphs. Another win over Sudanwould lift Ghana to 12 points.

Mali have four points and Benin three going into their Cotonou fixture and if the West African derby is drawn neither the 'Eagles' nor the 'Squirrels' could catch Ghana with two rounds to come.

Gabon lead Group A with six points followed by Togo (four), Morocco (two) and Cameroon (one) with the top and bottom teams having a game in hand.

Anything less than victory for Egypt in Kigali would leave the way clear for Algeria to finish first if they overcome Zambia in Blida.

Ivory Coast will move within a point of qualification from Group E if they defeat closest challengers Burkina Faso in Abidjan while the winners of the clash between Nigeria and Tunisia in Abuja would be expected to top Group B. - Sapa-AFP

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