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Forced to reshuffle dates
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 21 - 06 - 2007

The rescheduling of qualifying matches for the African Cup of Nations disrupted Egypt's plans, writes Abeer Anwar
The Confederation of African Football has rescheduled the remaining matches in Egypt's Group 2 of the preliminaries for the African Cup of Nations (ACN) to be staged in Ghana in 2008.
On 12 June CAF decided to postpone the Burundi-Egypt match due to logistical problems encountered in Kigali, Rwanda.
Because adequate housing was unable to be provided to the Egyptian team near Kigali, the African federation decided to postpone the match.
Ongoing pitch refurbishment and the installation of a new artificial turf in Bujumbura Stadium forced Burundi to move the game to Kigali.
Egypt will now take on Burundi in September, then Botswana in Cairo in October.
With two games remaining, Egypt leads its group with eight points, followed by Burundi with six.
In other results in Group 2, Botswana lifted themselves from the bottom with a 2-1 victory over Mauritania in Gaborone, despite being out of contention of a Nations Cup berth.
The rescheduling affected the Egyptian national soccer team's future plans. "This new schedule will postpone some of our important friendly matches as that against Japan on 12 October," head coach Hassan Shehata said.
The team has been criticised for the recent results against Mauritania in an ACN qualifier in Mauritania (1-1) and against Kuwait in a friendly last week, also drawing 1-1.
"The team is lacking a number of its stars due to injuries including Mohamed Abu Treika and Amr Zaki in addition to Mohamed Seddik," assistant coach Shawki Gharieb said. Gharieb said that those playing abroad were also facing problems such as Mohamed Zeidan who is injured and Mido who has weight problems after not playing with Tottenham for a long spell.
Gharieb added that despite the problems the rescheduling of ACN matches had caused, it had given the team the opportunity to rest after a very tight schedule
In other qualifying results, four-time winners Cameroon, Morocco, Angola, Tunisia and Sudan became the first batch of teams to qualify for Ghana.
The five teams booked their place for the 26th edition of the biennial tournament following victories in the match day five of the qualifiers played over the weekend.
The Atlas Lions of Morocco became the first team to qualify after hosts Ghana, courtesy of a lone goal victory over Malawi on Saturday.
Victories over Rwanda, Swaziland and Mauritius ensured the Indomitable Lions, Palancas Negras and Carthage Eagles their place at next year's football showpiece event.
Sudan qualified as one of the three second best placed teams with just a point separating them from Group 4 leaders Tunisia. It is the first time in more than 30 years that Sudan has qualified for the ACN after a first round exit in 1976.
Nigeria and South Africa inched closer to joining the qualification party while Algeria and Togo suffered shocking defeats at home and away respectively, keeping their groups wide and open. The remaining 10 teams will be determined after the ultimate matches of the campaign in September.
In Group 1, Gabon shuttered Cote d'Ivoire's Elephants hopes of qualifying without kicking a ball as they beat "whipping boys" Madagascar 2-0 to move three points adrift of the former.
In Group 3, Nigeria's Super Eagles edged closer to their 15th appearance at the biennial event after thrashing neighbours Niger 3-1 in Niamey.
The Uganda-Lesotho game was fixed for Tuesday following the late arrival of match officials.
In Group 4, Tunisia booked their place at next year's soccer fiesta following a 2-0 win over Mauritius in Rades just like second placed Sudan, who won 2-0 in Seychelles. The 2004 winners moved to 13 points, one more than their opponents in the ultimate match of the qualifiers, Sudan.
In Group 5, four-time winners, Cameroon sealed their place at next year's event after a slim 2-1 victory over Rwanda in Garoua on Sunday. In the other game, Liberia and Equatorial Guinea settled for a pulsating 0-0 draw.
In Group 6, Angola secured a place at the 26th edition of the ACN thanks to a 3-0 drubbing of Swaziland. Eritrea dashed the hopes of the Harambee Stars of Kenya as they beat them by a lone goal courtesy of an 80th minute strike from Berhane Aregay.
In Group 7, Tanzania's Taifa Stars ended the dreams of Burkina Faso, beating them by a lone goal in Ouagadougou, to move to eight points, same as leaders Senegal.
FIFA 2002 World Cup quarter-finalists Senegal were held to a pulsating goalless draw by Mozambique, needing a group decider to the final matches slated for September.
In Group 8, Algeria suffered a severe setback in their qualification bid as Guinea handed them a 2-0 defeat in Algiers. In the other match, Gambia drew 0-0 with Cape Verde making the automatic spot a two-horse race between the Syli Nationals and the Desert Warriors.
In Group 9, the Hawks of Togo also wasted a perfect opportunity to wrap a place at the finals as they bowed out to neighbours Benin 4-1. Mali moved to top spot after thrashing Sierra Leone 6-0 in Bamako to set up a potentially thrilling three-team finish involving Benin.
In Group 10, DR Congo maintained top spot despite a 1-1 draw with Namibia in Windhoek.
In the other match, Libya thrashed Ethiopia 3-1 in Tripoli to move to second spot.
In Group 11, South Africa was held to a 1-1 draw by Congo in Pointe Noire, forcing the automatic spot to be decided on the last day of matches. Zambia failed to take advantage of toppling the 1996 winners as they were also held by the same scoreline by lowly Chad.
Zambian coach Patrick Phiri blamed the inability of his strikers to convert the numerous chances as being their bane. "We created a lot of chances but we failed to covert them," a sad looking Phiri said. "We have to win our last match against South Africa," Phiri said.
In Group 12, Morocco became the first team to qualify for Ghana 2008 after beating Malawi in Blantyre. The 1976 winners will be making their 15th appearance in the championship.


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