Al-Ahram Weekly Online   8 - 14 May 2008
Issue No. 896
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Battle for berths

THE FIRST leg matches of the first round qualifications of the African Nations Championship continue on the continent.

The Taifa Stars of Tanzania and Zebras of Botswana moved a step closer to qualification for the ultimate round of the African Nations Championships qualifiers, courtesy of wins in the first leg matches of the first round played on Saturday.

The Taifa Stars beat the Cranes of Uganda 2-0 at the CCM Kirumba Stadium in Mwanza while the Zebras edged past the Chipolopolos of Zambia 1-0 at the National Stadium in Gaborone.

Both countries are in contention for the single slot allotted the Central-East Zone for the finals next year.

In Mwanza, a goal each from Emmanuel Gabriel and Shaaban Nditi sealed victory for the Taifa Stars over their regional rivals, who have been struggling for sometime.

Gabriel opened the scoring after 12 minutes after connecting a cross from Mrisho Ngasa before Nditi ensured victory with a superb strike on the hour mark.

In Gaborone, an own goal by Zambian defender White Simwanza's 40th minute strike gave the Zebras the lone-goal lead ahead of the second leg in Lusaka in a fortnight.

In the Northern Zone, Algeria settled for a one all draw with the Atlas Lions of Morocco. Mohamed Seguer put the hosts in the lead five minutes into the game before Mourad Aini levelled up for the visitors two minute after the half hour mark. The Algerians were hoping to make amends after missing out of the Ghana 2008 African Cup of Nations.

Libya, in the same group, has drawn bye into the next round following the withdrawal of supposed opponents Egypt.

Second leg matches have been scheduled for 16-18 May.

Cote d'Ivoire will host the maiden edition from 22 February to 8 March 2009.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will conduct the draw for the inter- clubs competitions on 17 May 2008 in Yaoundژ, Cameroon. CAF inter-club committee and the referee committee will also be meeting from 16 to 17 May, to conclude with the Executive Committee meeting on 18 May.

The MTN-CAF Champions League and the Confederation Cup are the two competitions involved in the draw.

Eight teams will be involved in the draw for both competitions for the group stage of the respective championship.

Etoile du Sahel and CS Sfaxien, both from Tunisia, are the defending champions of the MTN- CAF Champions League and the Confederation Cup respectively.

Meanwhile, the Executive Committee and Standing Committee members will visit the CAF Regional Football Academy in Yaoundژ, which is nearing completion. The Executive Committee of the continent's soccer governing body decided to put in place six football regional academies in six countries across the continent -- Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Tunisia and Zambia.

The objective of the academy is to bring the administration of football closer to the grassroots, meaning that CAF courses in administration, sports medicine, coaching and refereeing, among others, will be conducted regularly at these institutions with regional member participation.

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