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Football: No Major Surprises as African Championship Group Stage Ends


The last group matches of the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament under way in Egypt were played Tuesday. And the countries favored to win the trophy are still in the competition.

Nigeria, Cameroon, Tunisia, and hosts Egypt are among the teams still in contention to win Africa's most prestigious soccer trophy. Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) also made it to the final round, as did Nigeria and Senegal. Senegal qualified despite losing to Nigeria because of a superior goal difference to Ghana and Zimbabwe. At the end of the group matches the three Group D teams were tied on three points with a win each.

In one of the upsets of the group stage, Guinea beat Tunisia, the current champions, by three goals to zero on Monday. Both teams had already qualified for the quarter finals but Guinea's win means they finished top of Group C, having won all three of their matches.

Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of the Congo topped Group B to advance, while in Group A the hosts Egypt were joined by the Ivory Coast in the quarterfinals. Morocco, finalists in Tunisia two years ago, went home without scoring a single goal in their three matches.

One of the features of this tournament has been the poor performances of some of the countries that will be representing Africa at the World Cup this summer. Angola, Togo and Ghana all failed to go beyond the group stage. Tunisia and the Ivory Coast are the other teams going to the World Cup.

West and North Africa continued their dominance of Africa's favorite sport as southern Africa saw all of its four representatives, Angola, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, taking the early plane back home. South Africa, hosts of the World Cup in 2010, lost all its matches and failed to score in all three.

Four of the last eight will take to the pitch again Friday after a two-day break. The other four play their matches Saturday. The final will be held February 10.