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

Niger fans celebrate last month's victory over South Africa
Victory in Egypt means Niger fans, seen here celebrating last month's defeat of South Africa, could see their beloved Mena at a Nations Cup for the first time

As the race to reach the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations nears the finish line, a dramatic weekend of qualifying action is in store.

21 countries are still in the hunt for 10 places still available at next January's finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

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 group with five teams).

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


Niger have never qualified for an Africa of Nations finals before, but victory against an under-strength Egypt on Saturday will secure them that prize.

Along with Botswana, the Mena have been one of the surprises of this qualification campaign - with their 1-0 defeat of Egypt in their second game sending shockwaves through the continent.

Having defeated South Africa 2-1 last month to take pole position in the group, Niger may believe their chances of victory in Cairo are increased by Egypt's strategy for the match.

With the reigning African champions no longer able to qualify, the Egyptians will be fielding their under-23 side in preparation for next month's final Olympic qualifying tournament for the London games.

Should Hani Ramzy's youngsters crush Niger's dreams, then one of South Africa or Sierra Leone will fancy their chances of snatching the Group G ticket.

Playing at the World Cup venue of Nelspruit, both sides are confident they can still make the finals.

However, Bafana Bafana are without injured captain Steven Pienaar and left-back Tsepo Masilela - while the Leone Star had to leave Sweden-based centre-back Ibrahim Koroma at home.


Group H was one of the earliest to be decided when one of Africa's strongest sides, Ivory Coast, wrapped up qualification in June.

With five wins out of five, and a goal record of 17-3, the Elephants finish their campaign against Burundi on Sunday.

In the weekend's other game, Benin host bottom side Rwanda.


Another of the weekend's winner-take-all clashes comes in Sudan, where the second-placed side in the group host 2010 World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana.

With the first match between the sides having ended in a goalless draw in Accra, and Ghana enjoying superior goal difference, Sudan can only qualify with victory.

The Black Stars are without defender John Mensah (injured), goalkeeper Richard Kingson (dropped) and wideman Dede Ayew, whose fitness was uncertain when the squad was announced.

One fundamental problem for the visitors is the mid-afternoon kick-off, with the local players better suited to temperatures that could reach 40 degrees celsius.

Ghana's Matthew Amoah (right)
Ghana's last qualifier in Sudan ended in a 2-0 win, thanks to a brace from Matthew Amoah (right)

Elsewhere, Swaziland host Congo in a match which has no impact on whether the group's second-placed side can qualify as a best runner-up since neither have avoided defeat against the top two.


Of all the matches this weekend, none is likely to have the same visceral intensity as Uganda's home clash with Kenya.

The Cranes, who have not qualified for a Nations Cup since contesting the final in 1978, need to beat their fiercest rivals to be sure of qualification.

However, an unlikely defeat for Angola in Guinea-Bissau would take the Ugandans through regardless of the result.

Should Guinea-Bissau triumph in this lusophone battle, Kenya could also squeeze through to the finals.

A Kenyan victory in Uganda would not only plunge their neighbouring nation into despair, but also take the Harambee Stars through courtesy of a better head-to-head record against the Cranes.

Uganda's preparations were thrown off course on Friday when key midfielder David Obua was kicked out of the camp in a row involving a visit by President Yoweri Museveni.


With Botswana having qualified long ago, Group K's intrigue centres on who will finish second and so guarantee themselves qualification.

Since Group K is the only group with five teams (following Togo's late entry), the Confederation of African Football determined that the top two will go through.

Malawi currently hold the advantage since they lead Tunisia, with both teams tied on 11 points, thanks to a better head-to-head record against the Carthage Eagles.

With Tunisia hosting a lacklustre Togo side, the onus is on the Flames to triumph in Chad this weekend.

Coach Kinnah Phiri has promised to go all out in N'Djamena, saying he will field two strikers and attack-minded players across the midfield.

However, his side has only managed to win once away from home, when beating Djibouti in 2008, in the last eight years.