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2018 WCQ: Ghana, Nigeria, other big guns chase progress

Sleeping giants Kenya hope to overcome chaotic preparations and create an African 2018 World Cup qualifying shock Tuesday by eliminating highly ranked Cape Verde.

A Michael Olunga header gave the Harambee Stars a 1-0 first-leg lead over the Blue Sharks three days ago in the second-round eliminator.

It was the most impressive Kenyan performance at home for some time, against rivals 93 places higher in the world rankings, and raised belief that the East Africans can reach the five-group final qualifying stage.

Success was achieved against an all-too-familiar background of unsent air tickets for foreign-based players and unpaid squad bonuses.

Victims of the latest bungling by officials included Southampton midfielder and Kenya captain Victor Wanyama.

"Once again the Kenyan football federation have failed to send air tickets to foreign-based players," he told reporters in Nairobi.

"The federation has yet to refund money we used to pay for tickets. We always have problems with preparations and nothing is different this time.

"We should be taking this tie seriously because we are playing a very good team in an important competition.

"No warm-up matches were organised before the first leg while our opponents trained in Europe."

Kenya shrugged off the haphazard build-up to boss the first leg and more clinical finishing would have brought a bigger victory.

Scotland-born coach Bobby Williamson lamented final-third indecision, a long-running Harambee Stars problem .

"We could have killed off the tie were we more clinical in front of goal. Now we face a tricky return match," he admitted.

Kenya, Benin, Botswana, Chad and Libya are unseeded nations holding one-goal advantages ahead of away games.

Chad stunned Egypt through a flying Ezechiel N'Douassel header in N'Djamena just two months after suffering a four-goal drubbing by the Pharaohs in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at the same ground.

Libya, forced to host Rwanda in Tunisia because of post-Moamer Kadhafi-era violence, will be wary of playing in Kigali having lost 3-0 there in a 2015 Cup of Nations eliminator.

Benin go to Ouagadougou with a 2-1 advantage over Burkina Faso and Botswana take a similar lead over Mali to Bamako.

Ghana and Nigeria are expected to win comfortably at home after battling to 0-0 draws in the Comoros and Swaziland.

Unseeded Madagascar and Tanzania are unlikely to survive having been held at home by Senegal and Algeria after blowing two-goal leads.

Seven-time World Cup qualifiers Cameroon, Congo Brazzaville, reigning African champions Ivory Coast, South Africa and Tunisia are well positioned to advance as they have first-leg leads and home advantage.

The 14 overall winners Tuesday join the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Morocco, Uganda and Zambia in the group stage, which kicks off next October.

Five places have been reserved for Africa at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.


– All times GMT (Aggregate scores in brackets)

1:30pm Rwanda v Libya (0-1)
1:30pm Congo v Ethiopia (4-3) 
2:30pm Cameroon v Niger (3-0)
3pm Nigeria v Swaziland (0-0) – Live on SS3
3pm Ghana v Comoros (0-0) – Live on SS5 & 9
3:30pm Egypt v Chad (0-1)
5pm South Africa v Angola (3-1) – Live on SS4, Maximo & Select
5pm Côte d'Ivoire v Liberia (1-0)
5pm Tunisia v Mauritania (2-1)
6pm Burkina Faso v Benin (1-2) 
6:15pm Algeria v Tanzania (2-2)
7pm Cape Verde Islands v Kenya (0-1) – Live on SS6
7pm Senegal v Madagascar (2-2)
7pm Mali v Botswana (1-2)

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