All Africa Games qualifiers near conclusion

Dominic Adiyiah
Ghana have called up several Black Stars, including Dominic Adiyiah

The race to qualify for the 2011 All Africa Games in Maputo nears its conclusion this weekend.

The first legs of five decisive ties will be played across the continent.

Like the Olympics, All Africa Games qualifiers are restricted to under-23 footballers.

The teams are looking to qualifiers Egypt, Madagascar and hosts Mozambique.

One of the stand-out ties pits rivals Nigeria and Ghana against one another.

Ghana, who paid a heavy price for using largely local players when exiting the Olympic qualifiers against Sudan, have bolstered their squad with numerous foreign-based stars for the clash in Benin City.

A number of Black Stars played have been drafted in, such as Sammy Inkoom, David Addy, Daniel Opare, Dominic Adiyiah and Jordan Ayew.

David Duncan was fired after the Olympic Games disaster and assistant senior national coach Kwesi Appiah has been drafted in for the clash with the Nigerian 'Dream Team'.

Nigeria, meanwhile, who defeated Tanzania 3-0 at the match venue last weekend in an Olympic qualifier, have brought in AC Milan's Nnamdi Oduamadi and former U17 World Cup star Macauley Chisantus.

Like Ghana, Cameroon will be searching for a cure for their London 2012 hangover when they take on DR Congo in Kinshasa.

The 2000 Sydney gold medallists were stunned in the Olympic qualifiers by Tanzania but are searching for a fourth consecutive All Africa Games title.

Kenya meet Uganda, with the Kenyans lucky to still be in the competition after second round opponents Eritrea withdrew for unexplained reasons after building a 4-1 first-leg advantage.

South Africa play Zimbabwe just outside of Johannesburg, with the hosts missing injured midfield stars - local Footballer of the Year Thulani Serero and runner-up Andile Jali.

"The players are still in the right frame of mind," said coach Shakes Mashaba, whose team came from behind to defeat Benin in the Olympic qualifying race last week.

"Winning against Benin has really lifted their spirits and I don't think the technical team will find it difficult to motivate them for this clash.

Elsewhere, Guinea face Senegal next weekend after the latter survived in the competition as Guinea-Bissau, who beat then in the previous round, were disqualified for fielding an ineligible player.

Egypt qualified after their zone rivals Libya withdrew, while Madagascar made it through after Swaziland pulled out of the competition early.

Mozambique qualify automatically as hosts for a competition which runs between 03-18 September.

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