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Africa finalists face off in penultimate scour for World Cup berths

The men have been sifted from the boys as the campaign for the final five berths for Africa for Brazil 2014 World Cup reach the penultimate stage this weekend across several cities in the continent.

Of course giants South Africa, who hosted the last tournament in 2010 and Morocco, are missing out on the partly, a confirmation that each campaign will have a few bigwigs falling along the way.

But in general, after a grueling 24-month qualification campaign that started out with 52 nations, only 10 remain. From this 10, only five will cross the Atlantic to represent Africa at next year's FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

The five will be determined from a 10-match playoff series to be played on a home-and-away basis starting on Saturday.

Attempting to qualify are the Super Eagles of Nigeria, the Indomitable Lions from Cameroon, the Lions of Teranga (Senegal), the Elephants of Cote d'Ivoire, the Carthage Eagles from Tunisia, Algeria's Dessert Foxes, the Stallions from Burkina Faso, the Walya Antelopes (Ethiopia), Black Stars from Ghana and Pharaohs ( Egypt).

Burkina Faso will face Algeria, Cote d'Ivoire play Senegal, Nigeria is up against Ethiopia, Tunisia battle Cameroon and Ghana have Egypt to contend with.

While the globe is busy paving their way to Brazil, the hosts are keeping fit with a world tour. In the latest installment of the four-year tour, the Brazil will be in Asia for matchups against South Korea and Zambia.

For the likes of Morocco and South Africa, who both missed out on the playoffs, work on making the trip to Russia 2018 has already begun. The two face off in an international friendly on Friday, also live on the World of Champions.

Of interest in the Africa qualifiers will be the return leg pitting Ghana against Egypt, which has to be staged at volatile city of Cairo.

Egypt will host Ghana in the second leg of the World Cup playoff on Nov. 19 at the Air Defense Stadium in Cairo.

The choice of Cairo brings an end to uncertainties surrounding the venue for the crucial game, considering the current situation in the North African country.

The match at the 30,000 capacity stadium will be attended by fans, following series of meetings with authorities.

The decision will serve welcome news for Egypt coach Bob Bradley, who has made clear his desire to have the return encounter in Cairo and with the presence of fans.

This will be the first time since the beginning of 2012 that the Pharaohs will be playing in the presence of their fans after the infamous Port Said stadium disaster that led to over 70 persons dead during a league match between Al Ahly and Al Masry.

Security concerns led to matches being held behind closed doors and away from the biggest cities, Cairo and Alexandria to the Red Sea resort of El Gouna.

The Pharaohs will travel to Kumasi for the first part of the two-legged affair on Tuesday (October 15) at the Baba Yara Stadium. Egypt, the only team with a hundred per cent record in the African qualifiers.

The Pharaohs are eyeing their first appearance at the World Cup since 1990. The Egyptians other appearance was in 1934 in Italy.
 

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