FIFA World Cup Qualifying Wrap: Congo, Ethopia stay top
By Football News
Congo remain favourites to reach the next round of World Cup qualification despite seeing their 100 percent record ended by Gabon on Saturday.
The Group E leaders had won all three of their previous qualifying matches but were without the services of several first-team stars such as Christopher Samba.
However, they dug in to earn a 0-0 draw which keeps them in pole position in the group, six points clear of Gabon who look an unlikely bet to reach the next round of qualification as a result.
Burkina Faso and Niger, who occupy third and fourth spot respectively, go head to head on Sunday.
Elsewhere in Africa, Ethiopia leapfrogged South Africa to regain control of Group A courtesy of a 2-1 away win over Botswana.
First-half goals from Getaneh Kebede and Salahdin Said proved the difference for the visitors, despite Tebogo Sembowa's late consolation.
South Africa had temporarily occupied top spot after beating Central African Republic 3-0 earlier in the day, but now must defeat Ethiopia away from home on Sunday in order to regain control of their own fate.
The Ivory Coast, who featured at the 2010 World Cup hosted by South Africa, also look a strong bet for a return to big stage after an important day in Group C.
Goals from Lacina Traore, Wilfried Bony and Yaya Toure helped secure a 3-0 away win over Gambia, whose quest to reach the World Cup has now ended.
Later in the day, Morocco's 2-1 home win over second-placed Tanzania ensured the Ivory Coast would remain four points clear at the top.
In Group D, Zambia returned to the summit - one point ahead of Ghana - as they smashed Lesotho 4-0 on Saturday.
A brace from 29-year-old FC Utrecht forward Jacob Mulenga was added to by strikes from Christopher Katongo and former Portsmouth forward Collins Mbesuma.
Ghana had gone top by beating group whipping boys Sudan 3-1 on Friday, despite going down to ten men, but have seen their advantage instantly overhauled.
Group J remains wide open after Uganda beat Liberia 1-0 at home, while Senegal earned a 1-1 away draw against Angola.
Midfielder Tonny Mawajje got the only goal of the game in Uganda while a Papiss Cisse strike was cancelled out by Afonso Guilherme in Luanda.
Senegal remain ahead of Uganda by just one point, though Angola and Liberia are a further point behind in third and fourth respectively.
Tunisia remain in control of Group B after a 2-2 with second-placed Sierra Leone preserved their five-point lead at the summit.
And in the group's other game, Cape Verde Islands secured their first three points of qualifying by defeating Equatorial Guinea 2-1.