Sunday 17 November 2013
Kolo and Yaya Toure can look forward to another appearance at the FIFA World Cup finals after helping Ivory Coast reach next year's showpiece at the expense of Senegal, while John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses can also look forward to the trip after Nigeria cruised through their play-off against Ethiopia.
Ivory Coast reached the World Cup finals for the third time in their history but they were made to sweat for their qualification by Senegal in a tense match in neutral Morocco.
Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba conceded a 77th-minute penalty that put Senegal within a goal of qualifying for the finals as Moussa Sow's spot-kick reduced the arrears to 3-2 on aggregate in favour of the side featuring Liverpool's Kolo Toure and his brother Yaya, from Manchester City in their starting lineup.
However, deep into injury time, another former Chelsea forward, Salomon Kalou, scored a penalty to ensure a third straight finals appearance for the Ivorians, who included Swansea City striker Wilfried Bony on the bench. The defeat means that Newcastle United forward Papiss Cisse, who started the match, and West Ham United midfielder Mohamed Diame, who was a non-playing substitute, miss out on going to Brazil.
Earlier on Saturday a Nigeria side including Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel continued their impressive 2013 with a comfortable victory over Ethiopia in Calabar that secured a 4-1 aggregate success and safe passage for the Super Eagles to South America next year.
Moses, the Liverpool winger on loan from Chelsea, gave the reigning African champions breathing space with a 20th-minute penalty and the match was put beyond doubt by substitute Victor Ogbinna's free-kick eight minutes from time.
In the two remaining African play-offs Burkina Faso, seeking to make their first World Cup final appearance, lead Algeria 3-2 ahead of their second-leg on Tuesday, while Egypt host Ghana needing a major upset to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1990 after losing the first leg 6-1.
A Cameroon side captained by Chelsea striker Samuel Eto'o coasted into the finals after an emphatic home win against Tunisia. Despite sharing a close-fought goalless affair in the first leg, this time around proved more comfortable for Volke Finke's charges, who never looked back after taking the lead through Pierre Webo's opportunist strike in the fourth minute.
Benjamin Moudandjo doubled the advantage on the half-hour mark and although the North Africans responded through Ahmed Akaichi's effort early in the second half Jean Makoun II's brace settled the contest.
Senegal 1-1 Ivory Coast (2-3 agg.)
Nigeria (Moses) 2-0 Ethiopia (4-1 agg.)
Cameroon 4-1 Tunisia (4-1 agg.)
Selected international friendly results
Brazil 5-0 Honduras
Republic of Ireland 3-0 Latvia
Wales 1-1 Finland
World Cup play-off fixtures
Egypt v Ghana (1-6)
Algeria v Burkina Faso (2-3)