African Cup proving ground for teams missing the World Cup

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CAIRO: Excluded from the World Cup, Cameroon, Nigeria and Egypt seem intent on making amends in the African Cup of Nations.

Cameroon and Nigeria won their second in as many matches and African Cup champion Egypt drew away from home this weekend as all three took control of their respective groups in the continent s biennial nation’s championship.

Middlesbrough striker Yakubu Alyegbeni converted a Christian Obodo cross to give Nigeria a 1-0 win at Lesotho on Sunday and move it two points atop Group 3. Lesotho remained at the bottom of the group with zero points while Uganda drew 0-0 with Niger to move into second with four points.

Cameroon beat Equatorial Guinea 3-0 on Saturday with a pair of second-half goals by Mohammadou Idrissou, putting the Indomitable Lions atop Group 5 with six points. Liberia matched Cameroon on Sunday with its second win, 3-2 over Rwanda. Liberia wasted a two-goal lead in the second half and needed a 78th-minute winner by Dio Williams to prevail.

Although tied on points, Cameroon leads on goal difference having not allowed a goal in two games and outscoring its opponents 6-0.

Only the 12 group winners are guaranteed places in the 2008 finals in Ghana along with the host and three second-place teams.

Egypt drew 0-0 at Botswana on Saturday to move to four points atop Group 2, one point ahead of Mauritania and Burundi. Yamin Selemani scored twice in the first half to lead Burundi over Mauritania 3-1 on Sunday.

Angola, coming off its first World Cup, beat Kenya 3-1 despite the absence of injured captain Figueiredo and veteran left back Yamba Asha. Flavio Amaro scored two goals and Mateus added another to give the Black Antelopes their second win in as many games and put it two points atop Group 6. Eritrea is second with four points after its 0-0 draw at home with Swaziland.

World Cup 2010 host South Africa won its first, 1-0 at Zambia on Aaron Mokeona s 28th-minute goal on Sunday, the Bafana Bafana s first goal of the campaign. With four points, South Africa still trailed the Republic of Congo on goal difference in Group 11. The Congolese scored three times in the first 46 minutes and easily defeated Chad 3-1 on Sunday.

The Ivory Coast won its opener in three-team Group 1, getting three goals from Arouna Kone in a 5-0 victory over Gabon, which fell to second on goal difference.

Tunisia needed an own-goal by Richard Justin to beat Sudan 1-0 on Saturday for its first goal and win. It leads Group 4 with four points, staying ahead by a point of Sudan and the Seychelles, which beat Mauritius 2-1 on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Tanzania drew 0-0 at Mozambique on Sunday to stay atop Group 7, one point ahead of Senegal and Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso upset Senegal 1-0 in Ouagadougou on Saturday, using Narcisse Yameogo s 63rd-minute penalty to earn its first points.

A 75th-minute penalty by Karim Ziani gave Algeria a 1-0 victory over Gambia and moved it atop Group 8. The Cape Verde Islands beat Guinea 1-0 in the group s other game.

In Bamako, Mali, Dramane Traore scored in the fourth minute of second-half injury time Sunday to give Mali a 1-0 victory over Togo and push it to the top of Group 9 with four points. Benin, which beat Sierra Leone 2-0 earlier in the day, shared second with Togo with three points.

Congo drew 1-1 at Libya on Sunday to leave it atop Group 10 by a point. Namibia beat Ethiopia on Saturday to leave both in second place with three points, one point behind Congo.

And Malawi beat Zimbabwe 1-0 on Saturday to give it a share of the lead with Morocco on three points in the three-team group.

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