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Friday 12 October 2012

Barclays Premier League elite face African deciders

A preview of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations play-offs featuring Barclays Premier League players

  • Chelsea's Victor Moses was influential in Nigeria's play-off first leg against Liberia

  • Liverpool's Oussama Assaidi has been called up for Morocco's match with Mozambique

  • West Ham's Mohamed Diame of Senegal (left) will face Man City's Ivorian Kolo Toure

Thirty Barclays Premier League players have migrated south for the weekend as they take part in international play-offs unfolding in Africa.

There were shocks aplenty in qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations last month with a number of highly fancied sides suffering first-leg defeats in the play-offs that determine the finalists for the 2013 tournament in South Africa.

Cameroon, Morocco and Senegal are all aiming to claw back two-goal deficits in what promise to be exciting home ties, the pick of which takes place in Dakar on Saturday night.

Six goals were shared between the two sides in Abidjan and Newcastle United's Senegalese strike pair, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse, will be striving to make amends for the 4-2 reverse, while club-mate Cheikh Tiote will be one of several Barclays Premier League players standing in their way.

Ivory Coast defender Guy Demel, meanwhile, will be going tete-a-tete with West Ham United team-mate Mohamed Diame, with the visitors also able to call upon Manchester City siblings Yaya and Kolo Toure, Arsenal's Gervinho and Arouna Kone of Wigan Athletic. City's Abdul Razak, who is on loan at Charlton Athletic in the npower Championship is also in the Ivory Coast squad.

Assaidi and El Ahmadi make Morocco cut

After Morocco suffered a 2-0 reverse at the hands of Mozambique new coach Rachid Taoussi is hopeful the Atlas Lions can mount a fightback. Taoussi has named a predominantly home-based 26-man squad but Karim El Ahmadi of Aston Villa and Liverpool winger Ossama Assaidi feature. Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh and in-form Queens Park Rangers forward Adel Taarabt have been overlooked for Saturday's home encounter.

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has recalled Chelsea's John Obi Mikel as his team look to beat Liberia in Calabar after a 2-2 draw last month. Mikel's club-mate Victor Moses, who set up both goals in the first leg, is aiming to make a similar impact on proceedings.

West Bromwich Albion's Youssuf Mulumbu is in the Democratic Republic of Congo squad who travel to Equatorial Guinea looking to defend a 4-0 first-leg victory. Emmanuel Adebayor is in Togo's squad for the second leg against Gabon in Lome after a 1-1 draw, but the Tottenham Hotspur forward is reportedly a doubt to start.

Mali will have one Barclays Premier League representative in West Ham forward Modibo Maiga when they go to Botswana with what appears a comfortable 3-0 lead.

Southampton's Zambia forward Emmanuel Mayuka will be in Uganda as the Chipolopolo
team defend a slim 1-0 lead to return to the tournament they won at the beginning of the year.

Cameroon hopes of recovering from a shock 2-0 defeat by Cape Verde Islands will be boosted by the return from international exile of Samuel Eto'o.

The Africa Cup of Nations is usually held every two years, but is being played in 2013 to accommodate a switch from every even to every odd year. Next year's tournament takes place from 19 January to 10 February.

Africa Cup of Nations play-off first-leg results

Saturday 14 October 2012
Malawi v Ghana (First leg: 0-2)
Botswana v Mali (0-3)
Uganda v Zambia (0-1)
Nigeria v Liberia (2-2)
Tunisia v Sierra Leone (2-2)
Senegal  v Ivory Coast (2-4)
Morocco v Mozambique (0-2)               

Sunday 15 October 2012
Ethiopia v Sudan (3-5)
Cameroon v Cape Verde Islands (0-2)
Angola v Zimbabwe (1-3)
Niger v Guinea (0-1)
Togo v Gabon (1-1)
Algeria v Libya (1-0)
Equatorial Guinea v DR Congo (0-4)
Burkina Faso v Central African Republic (0-1)

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Key Points

  • Africa Nations Cup play-off second legs take place this weekend
  • A host of Barcalys Premier League players will be involved
  • Senegal aiming to claw back 4-2 deficit against Ivory Coast in standout tie