Ethiopia, Nigeria battle for World Cup place

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JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – Giantkillers Ethiopia were drawn against Nigeria Monday in the 2014 World Cup Africa zone play-offs.

Ivory Coast face Senegal, Tunisia meet Cameroon, Ghana tackle Egypt and Burkina Faso play Algeria in the other ties created by a Cairo draw.

The outcome means the five 2010 qualifiers, Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria, can make it to the global football showcase again.

South Africa also competed at the last tournament, but only because a World Cup place is automatically reserved for the host nation.

First legs are set for October and the return matches for November with the winners qualifying for the 2014 finals in Brazil.

Ethiopia were the only side to upset the seeding in the mini-league previous stage, finishing two points ahead of top-ranked South Africa.

But they will face much tougher opponents in Nigeria, who beat Ethiopia 2-0 en route to winning the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa last February.

While the ‘Super Eagles’ use a mix of local and Europe-based stars, the bulk of the ‘Walias Antelopes’ squad is home based.

Didier Drogba-captained Ivory Coast will draw comfort from their dominance of Senegal in a 2013 Cup of Nations qualifier.

The ‘Elephants’ won 4-2 in Abidjan and were two goals ahead in Dakar when crowd violence forced the game to be abandoned during the second half.

The west African derby pits French coaches Sabri Lamouchi of Ivory Coast and Alain Giresse of Senegal against each other.

Egypt edged Ghana 1-0 when they clashed in the 2010 Cup of Nations final with Mohamed ‘Geddo’ Nagy snatching a late winner.

Ghana, who reached the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals, are looking powerful with Andre and Jordan Ayew, Kevin-Prince Boateng and Michael Essien available again.

A major handicap for Egypt has been the lack of crowd support with home games played behind closed doors or in front of tiny crowds due to security concerns.

Tunisia must find a coach before hosting Cameroon as Nabil Maaloul quit after a home loss to Cape Verde Islands last weekend.

The Cape Verdeans were later disqualified for fielding a suspended defender, allowing Tunisia back into the competition.

Former Dutch star Ruud Krol, who coaches local club CS Sfaxien, is the man Tunisian officials want as they seek a fifth World Cup appearance.

Cameroon captain and star Samuel Eto’o, 32, announced his retirement last week amid reports that he disagreed with some selections of German coach Volker Finke.

But with a record seventh World Cup appearance by an African team beckoning, it would be no surprise if efforts were made to change the mind of the Chelsea striker.

Burkina Faso are a rapidly improving African side under Belgian coach Paul Put and hope to build on reaching the 2013 Cup of Nations final when they face Algeria.

Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic coaches Algeria — one of six foreigners involved while Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria rely on locals Sewnet Bishaw, Kwesi Appiah and Stephen Keshi.

Draw

Ivory Coast v Senegal

Ethiopia v Nigeria

Tunisia v Cameroon

Ghana v Egypt

Burkina Faso v Algeria

First leg: Oct 11-15, second: Nov 15-19

Note: Winners qualify for 2014 World Cup in Brazil

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