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Big weekend at the Animal Farm

“All Animals are equal but some are more equal than others”-George Orwell,1945

The Animal Farm was one of the most intriguing books I read growing up and the place where that is most relevant is in African football.

The continental game is a jungle with a growing failure to step up and build on the progress that we thought we had made in the 20th century.

However, one area where the world has remained thrilled is in our ability to conjure up animal names for our national teams.

So are we surprised? I am not the least surprised. We have fixtures like Elephants v Squirrels, Eagles v Antelopes, Indomitable Lions v Hawks and so much more. Let’s not make this a laughing matter for that is not my intention here.

Some of them, like Chipolopolo or copper bullets -- well at least hunters use bullets -- and Black Stars -- animals roam in the open with the stars shinning down on them while some of them just gaze at the stars-- need a cooked up justification for the ones that are not animals.

How about Bafana, Bafana? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Boys running around in the wild, mostly intrigued by the antics and horrors of the wild?

This weekend, I invite you all to join me as we spend the weekend at the Animal Farm. Here are the fixtures for this weekend’s final round of qualifiers and you can tell me if it will not make a chapter in George Orwell’s book:

Saturday 13 October 2012

Flames v Black Stars
Zebras v Eagles
Cranes v Chipolopolo
Super Eagles v Lone Stars
Cathage Eagles v Leone Stars
Teranga Lions v Elephants
Atlas Lions v Black Mambas

Sunday 14 October 2012

Indomitable Lions v Blue Sharks
Palancas Negras v Warriors
Menas V Syli Stars
Hawks v The Panthers
Desert Fenecs(Foxes) v Mediternean Knights Nzalang nacional V Leopards
Stalions v The wild beasts

Flames v Black Stars

So who do I think will qualify to join the Boys, the Boys at Afcon 2013?

The Black Stars go into the return leg against the Flames in Lilongwe with a 2-0 advantage and will test their hosts impressive home record.

I don’t see the flames eliminating them. They are capable of beating anyone but if the game was played in Blantyre, I would fancy them doing much better, and I will go for score draw and Black stars progressing 3-1 on aggregate

To qualify: Ghana

Zebras v Eagles

Cranes v Chipolopolo

The African champions have their work cut out in Kampala where the Cranes have been really invincible. If they score first, then they have a great chance of advancing and the momentum is with them and they will be boosted by the recent Fifa ruling that gave them three points at the expense of the Nile Crocodiles.

The cranes were unable to beat the Teranga Lions and I believe this will be another score draw with the Chipolopolo advancing to Mzansi to defend their title in what has been the shortest Reign.

The motivation for the Chipolopolo is to show their 2012 victory was no fluke. The Cranes on the other hand almost always seem to self-destruct when you expect them to make home advantage count like drawing with Kenya when a win would have given them a better chance in Afcon 2012 qualifying.

To qualify: Zambia

Super Eagles v Lone Stars

This used to be a walk-over for the Super Eagles but since 2001 when George Weah inspired his compatriots to stretch the Eagles and the black Stars in Korea-Japan 2002 qualifying including that famous 2-1 victory in Monrovia,

The Lone stars will come prepared to fight for a ticket after salvaging a 2-2 draw at home.

I am sure we will have a very competitive game and the Super Eagles will have to dig deep to win this one. The fact that the Eagles are still in re-building mode makes it quite a precarious tie

Afcon 2013 and African football needs Nigeria for drama but they will need to earn it against a determined Lone Stars

In the end, I still think the Super Eagles will edge it with a narrow win, maybe 1-0 or 2-1 in Calabar

To qualify: Nigeria

Carthage Eagles v Leone Stars

Carthage was one of my most intriguing stories when I studied ancient history in Primary school, as were the tales of Hammurabi, Hannibal and that famous Roman General, Skippio Africnus. The Carthage Eagles are the lone reminder of what was one of the iconic empires in the world.

There was a lot of drama in the first leg in Freetown but I don’t expect the Stars will have any freedom in Tunis. I expect they will put up a great fight but the Eagles will advance 2-0

To qualify: Tunisia

Teranga Lions v Elephants

This is one sad fixture because one of these teams will miss out and so we have a battle of epic proportion and you know, the jury is still out as to which of them rules the Animal Kingdom.

The Lion enjoys a lot of respect and is usually proclaimed King of the Jungle but Elephants will always have a say and every time I observe them at close quarters, I will not be convinced that a Lion can take on the massive Elephants.

Well, in the first leg

in Abidjan, all the major Lions and Elephants came to the party and it was the Lions who drew first blood in a game that ended Elephants 4-2 Lions, with all to play for in Dakar.

Didier Drogba, Salomon Kalou, Kolo and Yaya Toure and Gervinho will hope to maintain their two goal cushion from the first leg and have shown they can score in every game but they know that the Lions can progress if they win 2-0- and in Demba Ba and Papsis Demba Cisse, they have two strikers of exceptional ability, now helped by playing together every week for Newcastle, This one is too close to call.

I think the Lions will probably win the match but how do they stop Drogba or anyone else scoring. Lions to win 2-1.

To qualify: Ivory Coast

Atlas Lions v Black Mambas

The Black mambas are snakes and no matter how ferocious the Lions maybe, mambas have the capacity to sting and they sure did in Maputo when they produced one of the shock results of the first leg but again, anybody can be beaten in Maputo.

So we are poised for a big duel in Rabat or I think most likely Casablanca. Lions will win, and if the mambas manage to score , they can increase the Southern African contingent to Afcon 2013. Let me make one prediction from my head rather than my heart. Atlas Lions will win 2-1 but Mambas will advance.

To qualify: Mozambique

Sunday matches

The Walya Antelopes v Nile Crocodiles

So the crocs will be reeling in the disappointment of losing three world cup points to the chipolopolo who they beat in Khartoum, but again you wonder how foolish their administrators and managers could have been knowing their last match at Afcon 2012 was a defeat to the same team.

The first leg was a classic, 5-3 it ended in favour of the crocs and I believe the second leg will also be high scoring in Addis Ababa.

To qualify: Sudan

Indomitable Lion v Blue Sharks

The once mighty indomitable Lions have become Pussy cats in recent time and their 0-2 loss to the Blue Sharks is an all-time low. They have now begged Samuel Eto’O and a whole lot of veteran Lions , now this reminds me so much of 1981 when the then Green Eagles recalled retired Captain Christian Chukwu, Emmanuel Okala, called up Thompson Usiyan, Andrew Atuegbu and all sorts of Players.

I hope for their sake that they are in good shape. Eto”O is still a force but the Sharks have been one of the most improved teams in recent years. Can the Lions prevent them from scoring.

They have managed these last minute escapes so many timebut as we saw when they failed to qualify for Afcon 2012 depite running riots over the Leopards.

I will give the lions the benefit of the doubt and tip them to progress 3-0.

To qualify: Cameroon

Black Antelopes v Warriors

The palancas negras will hope their lone goal in the 1-3 defeat to the Warriors in Harare proves decisive if they can win in Luanda by at least 2-0 but as we have seen in these crucial encounters, they will have to keep the warriors at bay an prevent them from scoring. They will have Knowledge Musona back and I think they have done enough and even if they lose, they will still progress.

To qualify: Angola or Zimbabwe-

Fennec Foxes v Mediterranean Knights

How times have changed for the Foxes , once the most powerful force from North Africa, they will fancy their chances after winning away 1-0 but that’s still a slim headline and in a derby, the Knights.

Menas v Syli stars

The Menas made their debut at Afcon 2012 and will have to pull the sensational “Rabbit out of the hat” to overcome the Syli stars.

To qualify: Guinea

Hawks v The Panthers

Hawks are buoyed by the return of Emmanuel Adebayor and they will like to return to the Afcon after that unfortunate shooting incident in Angola 2010. The Panthers like fellow Afcon 2012 co-hosts have struggled and will need their star striker Pierre Aubameyang to come to the party .

To qualify: Togo

Nzalang Nacional v Leopards

This tie looks like all but over after the Leopards won the first leg 4-0 unless the Nzalang nacional can cause an earthquake in Malabo . The Afcon 2012 co-hosts would like to progress after their decent showing in 2012 , however I have to say I believe this tie is settled. The Leopards .

To qualify: Congo DR

Stalions v The wild Beasts

The stalions need to score two goals to overcome "Les Fauves" or the wild beasts when translated to english. The beasts won the first leg in Bangui 1-0 and for me, ever since I watched them play the Atlas Liopns to a standstill in Afcon 2012 qualifying in Bangui, I have been amazed at their progress.

I will give the wild beast an outside chance of getting a draw away from home to advance

To qualify: Central Africa Republic

Join me for live online coverage of the Afcon 2013 qualifiers here on supersport.com where we will have a live blog. If you are still confused about the fixtures and time of the games, here they are:

Saturday 13 October 2012

Malawi v Ghana -Lilongwe -14:30
Botswana v Mali –Gaborone- 15:00
Uganda v Zambia- Kampala -15:00
Nigeria v Liberia- Calabar -17:00
Tunisia v Sierra Leone –Monastir- 20:15
Senegal v Ivory Coast –Dakar- 20:30
Morocco v Mozambique- Marrakech- 21:00

Sunday 14 October 2012

Ethiopia v Sudan -Addis Ababa- 15:00
Cameroon v Cape Verde Islands -Yaounde 16:00
Angola v Zimbabwe- Luanda- 17:00
Niger v Guinea –Niamey- 17:00
Togo v Gabon -Lome -17:30
Algeria v Libya- Blida- 20:00
Equatorial Guinea v Congo DR-Malabo 20:00
Burkina Faso v Central African Republic- Ouagadougou 20:00

You can follow me on twitter @EmekaEnyadike

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