After the the hostilities of the Brazil 2014 World Cup, African nations have returned to the turf to battle for qualification ahead of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations to be hosted by Morocco.
Fourteen teams will play over two-legged ties to fill the remaining seven places in the group stage. Some of the matches decided yesterday include Sierra Leone who went into their second-round match against Seychelles on the heels of a suspension slammed on 15 of their players for match-fixing. Two of the suspended group were in the national team.
Botswana also saw action at home against Guinea-Bissau in Gaborone. Botswana are another team with controversy hanging over them – Fifa has threatened to ban them because of tournaments being held in the country that football’s world governing body believes are not under control of the Botswana football association.
They have been given until 22 September to comply with Fifa’s directives. In Saturday’s other fixture Uganda took on Mauritania , who lost in the previous round but were reinstated after Equatorial Guinea were disqualified for fielding an ineligible player in the tie. Today, Lesotho and Kenya meet in the first of the day’s matches. Kenya must do without several first-choice players who have been refused permission to play because the game falls outside Fifa’s international match calendar.
Among them is Norway-based goalkeeper Arnold Origi and France-based captain Denis Oliech.
But Victor Wanyama has been given permission by English Premier League side Southampton to play in Maseru.
Reserve keeper Jeremy Onyango believes Kenya “only need to believe in ourselves and we will do well in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers”.
Tanzania host Mozambique in Dar-es-Salaam also on Sunday. They hope they can take advantage of new Dutch coach Mart Nooij’s experience of four years in charge of Mozambique from 2007 to 2011.
Nooij told BBC Sport: “I know Mozambique rather well, I built their team myself, practically. I know the players and I will tell the Tanzania players where we can strike them and how to beat them.
“At the back we can be very safe – that is one of our characteristics. we have four defenders and a goalkeeper that can save us. And up front we have some killers.
“We must get the ball up front so our attackers can score.” Tanzania have been boosted by the availability of star front men Mbwana Samata and Thomas Ulimwengu, who were freed by Democratic Republic of Congo outfit TP Mazembe.
Malawi have axed full-back and captain Moses Chavula and must do without injured midfielder Robert Ng’ambi when they meet Benin in Cotonou.
Coach Young Chimodzi has also handed late call-ups to three local players to help ease the absence of defender Limbikani Mzava and striker Gabadihno Mhango, who have not been released by their South African club side Bloemfontein Celtic.
Striker Atusaye Nyondo has also been ruled out because his travel documents are with the South Africa department of Home Affairs pending processing of a work permit.
Benin will again rely heavily on West Bromwich Albion midfielder Stephane Sessegnon scorer of three goals in the second-round triumph over Sao Tome e Principe.
Rwanda, who shocked Libya in the last round, visit Congo-Brazzaville.