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01 Jun 2008 09:37
African superstar Samuel Eto’o overcame an assault claim to score as Cameroon opened their challenge for a record sixth World Cup appearance with a 2-0 win over Cape Verde Islands on Saturday.
Barcelona striker Eto’o converted a penalty 10 minutes into the second half in Yaoundé to complete a comfortable triumph set up by an early goal from veteran defender Rigobert Song.
A local radio reporter accused three-time African Footballer of the Year Eto’o of head-butting him on Friday after tempers flared over limited media access to the Indomitable Lions.
Cameroon competed at the World Cup in 1982, 1990, when they became the first African quarterfinalists, 1994, 1998 and 2002, and are poised to dominate Group One in the second qualifying phase for the 2010 tournament in South Africa.
Tanzania were surprisingly held 1-1 at home by Mauritius in the same group, with Danny Mrwanda scoring a 70th-minute equaliser after Wesley Marquette had edged the Indian Ocean islanders in front before half-time.
Namibia snatched a dramatic 2-1 victory over Kenya in Windhoek thanks to a Costa Khaiseb goal 60 seconds from full-time in Group two, which includes Guinea and Zimbabwe and is likely to be among the most fiercely contested.
German-based Oliver Risser put shock 2008 African Nations Cup qualifiers Namibia ahead after 17 minutes and Allan Watende levelled late in the first half for the Harambee Stars.
Uganda, who came agonisingly close to reaching the Nations Cup in Ghana last January, battled to overcome minnows Niger 1-0 in a Group Three showdown in Kampala courtesy of a goal 11 minutes into the second half from Ibrahim Sekagya.
Botswana fared even worse at home to Madagascar in Group Seven, having to settle for a 0-0 draw after Pontsho Moloi thought he had scored in each half only to have both efforts disallowed for offside.
Rwanda had better luck at home to Mauritania in Group Eight, with Saidi Abedi converting a penalty and Bokota Labama also on target in the closing stages to complete a 3-0 victory set up by a first-half Olivier Karekezi goal.
Malawi brutally exposed the limitations of Djibouti, the lowest ranked of the 47 second-round competitors, with six second-half goals that earned them an 8-1 win in Blantyre.
Russia-based Esau Kanyenda led the goal romp with a hat-trick and Elvis Kafoteka, Joseph Kamwendo, Moses Chavula, Robert Ngambi and Noel Mkandawire also scored for the Flames in the Group Twelve encounter.
Daya Hassan struck midway through the first half for Djibouti, who are not strangers to humiliating losses, having being overwhelmed 9-1 away to the Democratic Republic of Congo in a World Cup qualifier eight years ago.
The 2010 World Cup qualifiers double as eliminators for the African Nations Cup in Angola the same year.—AFP
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