The road to 2012 Africa Cup of Nations: Groups G-K

South Africa's Bafana Bafana
Bafana Bafana have been weakened by injury - with captain Steven Pienaar and Reneilwe 'Yeye' Letsholonyane missing - ahead of Sunday's crucial clash in Niger

With just two rounds of qualifying left, the race to reach the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations is entering its critical phase.

Four of the qualifiers are already known, with first-time finalists Botswana and Ivory Coast joining hosts Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in the finals.

Elsewhere, some 25 nations still harbour hopes of reaching African football's showpiece event next January.

All 11 group winners automatically qualify for the Nations Cup, as will the two best runners-up - and the team that finishes second in Group K, the only team with five points.

The BBC's Piers Edwards previews the action in Groups G-K (with Groups A-F previewed here).

GROUP G

Niger's home match with South Africa on Sunday is one of the matches of the weekend.

While Bafana Bafana appear to be making smooth progress towards their first Nations Cup since 2008, victory in Niamey for the hosts would leave the 2010 World Cup hosts sweating on their qualification.

South Africa coach Pitso Mosimane will be without the injured quartet of captain Steven Pienaar, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Davide Somma and Kagisho Dikgacoi amongst others.

Mosimane - whose team has yet to concede a goal in Group G - is also sweating on the fitness of striker Katlego Mphela after he limped out of training on Wednesday morning with a knee injury.

The intense heat will suit the hosts, with the Mena having won both their home qualifiers so far - stunning African champions Egypt 1-0 and Sierra Leone 3-1.

Meanwhile, the Pharaohs seem to have given up on defending their title next January, having drafted in players from their Olympic and junior sides for their final ties.

They travel to Sierra Leone in search of their first win of the campaign while the hosts need a victory on Saturday if they are to revive their slim qualification chances.

GROUP H

National captain Didier Drogba will miss Ivory Coast's trip to Rwanda because of the concussion the Chelsea man suffered at the weekend, but his absence is no great blow.

The Elephants wrapped up qualification back in June, after winning their first four matches in the group.

Defender Kolo Toure could make his return to football, with his six-month Fifa ban ending 24 hours before Saturday's match.

Elsewhere, neither Burundi nor Benin have realistic chances of making the Nations Cup as one of the best runners-up.

The pair clash on Sunday in Bujumbura where the hosts will look to build on their 3-1 victory over Rwanda last time out.

GROUP I

Group I is one of the tightest of the lot, with familiar rivals Ghana and Sudan both tied at the top with ten points apiece.

With the Black Stars leading on goal difference alone, Friday's home match against Swaziland represents a perfect opportunity to boost their goal tally.

Swaziland have conceded three goals in each away game so far and Ghana - who are without injured defender John Mensah - will want to go to Sudan for their final tie needing just a draw to qualify.

The Sudanese travel to Congo on Sunday, where the hosts' potency may be affected by the fact that they have known their new coach for just one week.

Frenchman Jean-Guy Wallemme only met his players for the first time after landing in Brazzaville last Saturday.

GROUP J

Fans of Uganda's Cranes hoist Andy Mwesigwa aloft after an early qualifying draw against Kenya
Uganda fans will be celebrating their first Nations Cup qualification in 33 years should they avoid defeat in Angola

Uganda were so good in 1978 that they managed to reach the Nations Cup final - but, rather bizarrely, they have never played in the tournament since.

Now the Cranes have the greatest chance in over three decades to make it back and will qualify if they avoid defeat in Angola on Sunday.

Bobby Williamson's side, who welcome back captain Ibrahim Sekagya from suspension, lead their opponents by four points but an Angola win could set up a nervy finish.

Uganda - whose midfielder David Obua is an injury doubt - host bitter rivals Kenya in their final qualifier next month while the Palancas Negras travel to Guinea-Bissau.

This Saturday, the Kenyans host Guinea-Bissau with the visitors having thumped Nations Cup hosts Equatorial Guinea in a recent friendly.

GROUP K

With Botswana having qualified, the race is on to see who finishes second in the group - a prize that carries an automatic qualifying berth since Group K has five teams.

And another of the weekend's most enticing matches will come on Saturday as the two teams tied in second place - Malawi and Tunisia - clash in Blantyre.

46,000 fans are expected to fill the Kamuzu Stadium for a game that Flames coach Kinnah Phiri is calling a 'cup final'.

Tunisia lead Malawi on goal difference and so might be content to settle for a draw ahead of next month's final Group K matches.

On the weekend of 07-09 October, the Carthage Eagles host Togo while Malawi travel to Chad.

Meanwhile, this Sunday, Botswana - who wrapped up qualification in June - travel to Lome to face a Togo side who are already out of the running.

Top Stories