[WORLD CUP QUALIFYING: Weekend]Cape Verde Islands completed one of the most improbable comebacks in the history of World Cup qualifying as it joined nine other teams in Africa's final round with a 2-0 win at Tunisia. The Blue Sharks had been eliminated before the fifth day of group play with four straight losses, but it was later awarded both games against Equatorial Guinea by forfeit and wins over Sierra Leone and Tunisia allowed them to make up 10 points.
Platini andNhuck scored to lead the Cape Verdeans to the win in Rades.
With his team seemingly through to the next round, Tunisian star Saber Khalifa picked up a second yellow card in his team's last game in June, meaning he'd have to sit out what Tunisia thought would be a meaningless game against Cape Verde Islands but his slate would be cleared for the final round of Africa qualifying. Instead, it meant he was ineligible for Saturday's deciding game.
Equatorial Guinea forfeited both wins over Cape Verde Islands because Spanish-born forward Emilio Nsue was ineligible.
The draw for the final round of African qualifying will be held Sept 16 in Cairo. The teams will be paired in two-leg series with the five winners going to the World Cup. The seeding is based on the most recent FIFA rankings.
Africa Seeded Teams:
Cape Verde Islands
Africa Unseeded Teams:
Nigeria, Senegal and Ethiopia reached the playoffs Saturday, while Tunisia crashed out after being shocked at home by Cape Verde. The North Africans' World Cup dream disappeared at the very end of the main qualifying competition with a painful 2-0 loss in Rades, and the Cape Verdeans continued their breakthrough year after playing in their first African Cup.
Burkina Faso also kept its hopes of playing in Brazil alive by beating Gabon and overtaking Republic of Congo on the final matchday. Ivory Coast, Egypt and Algeria had already won their groups before the weekend's games. Ghana progressed on Friday.
The top five teams in FIFA's rankings on Sept. 12 will be seeded in the draw for the playoff ties and can't meet. Ivory Coast, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria and Cape Verde are currently the highest ranked countries in the playoffs.
Ethiopia © Backpagepix
Cape Verde, Ethiopia make playoffs
07 September 2013, 22:59
Cape Verde Islands shocked Tunisia 2-0 in Rades Saturday to reach the Africa zone play-offs in the 2014 World Cup qualifying competition.
Platini and Nhuck – two of many Cape Verdean footballers who use nicknames – scored in the first half to trigger celebrations in the islands state of 500 000 inhabitants.
Victory lifted the 'Blue Sharks' to 12 points, one more than four-time World Cup qualifiers Tunisia, and completed a remarkable Group B comeback.
The surprise 2013 Africa Cup quarterfinalists were pointless after three rounds, then Fifa changed a loss in Malabo to a 3-0 win because of an ineligible Equatorial Guinea player.
Home victories against the Equatoguineans and Sierra Leone brought the Cape Verdeans back into contention – but they had to win in Tunisia.
The 'Carthage Eagles' were favoured to qualify for the play-off series as they had home advantage and the confidence boost of a 2-1 win in Praia.
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But goals from Cyprus-based Platini and Portugal-based Nhuck rocked the Tunisians, whose second-half pressure went unrewarded.
Tunisia were not the only 'big name' to fall – 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa bit the dust despite a 4-1 win over Botswana in Durban.
Bottom Group A seeds Ethiopia came from behind to edge Central African Republic 2-1 in Congo and finish two points ahead of Bafana Bafana (The Boys).
Burkina Faso completed an amazing Group E comeback by defeating Gabon
Torres starts for Tigres before heading to Columbus
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