Egypt through to African World Cup qualifying playoffs after beating Mozambique 1-0
Ivory Coast also progress as winner of Group C, beating Tanzania 4-2 in Dar es Salaam
Tunisia and Algeria also through to playoffs in October and November
Group A winner Ethiopia facing FIFA investigation over ineligible player fielded last weekend
Egypt moved closer to a first World Cup finals appearance since 1990 after reaching the African qualification playoffs on Sunday.
The Pharaohs, coached by American Bob Bradley, notched a fifth successive victory in Group G, beating Mozambique 1-0 in Maputo thanks to a 40th-minute goal from young striker Mohamed Salah.
Salah, who turned 21 on Saturday and plays for Swiss club Basel, scored a hat-trick last weekend against Zimbabwe – and also netted last year against Guinea.
It marks a big turnaround in fortunes for the continent’s seven-time champion, which failed to qualify for the last two Africa Cup of Nations and suspended its domestic league for a year after more than 70 fans died in the Port Said tragedy in February 2012.
Guinea’s hopes of a World Cup debut were ended despite winning 2-0 against Zimbabwe, with striker Mohamed Yattara scoring both goals.
The Ivory Coast also went through to the playoffs, winning 4-2 away to Tanzania to be sure of topping Group C.
Two-time African player of the year Yaya Toure scored two first-half goals to help his team come from behind, and substitute Wilfried Bony sealed victory in time added on.
It meant Morocco missed out, despite winning 2-0 against Gambia on Saturday.
South Africa, the 2010 World Cup host, also failed to make the playoffs after losing 2-1 to Group A winner Ethiopia thanks to a 70th-minute headed own-goal by Bernard Parker.
Parker had put his side ahead in the first half but Getaneh Kebede equalized before the break to join Salah and Algeria’s Islam Slimani on a leading five goals in the qualifiers.
Ethiopia, which played at the Africa Cup of Nations in January for the first time in 30 years, has never gone to the World Cup.
However, it is facing a FIFA investigation after being accused of fielding an ineligible player in last Saturday’s 2-1 win away to Botswana. If it is found guilty, South Africa and Botswana could have another chance to go through.
Football’s world governing body has opened similar proceedings against Togo and Equatorial Guinea – neither of which have reached the playoffs, but the outcome could affect the qualifiers from their respective groups.
Ghana reached the quarterfinals in South Africa three years ago, and the Black Stars are on course for a third successive appearance after beating Lesotho 2-0 in Maseru.
Christian Atsu and captain Asamoah Gyan.scored in either half to put Ghana one point ahead of Zambia in Group D ahead of their clash in the final round in September.
Zambia stuttered with a 1-1 draw at home to Sudan on Saturday.
Tunisia claimed a playoff place as winner of Group B after drawing 1-1 in Equatorial Guinea, with Sierra Leone’s slim hopes having been ended by a 1-0 defeat against Cape Verde.
Cameroon’s hopes of a seventh World Cup outing hang in the balance following Sunday’s 0-0 draw away to the Democratic Republic of Congo.
With star striker Samuel Eto’o out injured, the Indomitable Lions dropped two points behind Group I leader Libya ahead of their clash in the last match.
Libya beat Togo 2-0 on Friday.
Algeria will try to earn a fourth World Cup appearance after reaching the playoffs with a 1-0 win in Rwanda, as Saphir Taider netted the only goal in the 52nd minute to seal top spot in Group H.
Mali needed to beat Benin to delay the Desert Foxes’ progress, but drew 2-2 at home after needing a second-half equalizer from striker Cheick Diabate.
Senegal returned to the top of Group J with a 2-0 win away to Liberia, as striker Papiss Cisse scored in either half.
It set up a last-round showdown with Uganda, a point back in second following Saturday’s 2-1 win at home to Angola.
Malawi’s hopes of overhauling Group F leader Nigeria were dented by a 2-2 home draw against bottom team Kenya.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles hold a two-point lead ahead of the September 6 home clash with Malawi.
The 10-team playoffs will take place over two legs in October and November, with the five winners earning a place in Brazil next year.