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Four nations face giants in Africa Nations Cup qualifiers  

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Ethiopian coach Abraham Mebratu is rallying his charges to take out Sierra Leone on Sunday in Hawassa to boost their chances of qualifying for Group F for the Africa Nations Cup.

The Ethiopian team known as the Walias is pointless after a 5-0 loss to Ghana in Kumasi in June 2017 while Sierra Leone beat Kenya 2-1 in Freetown. Kenya host Ghana in the other Group F clash also on Saturday in Nairobi.

In group B, Malawi travels to Casablanca to face Morocco on Saturday. Malawi’s head coach Ronny van Geneugden is seeking his third win in 15 games since taking over the reigns last May.

He hopes the Malawi Flames will return to their base in Blantyre unscathed.

The Flames share the top spot with Cameroon after a lone goal victory over Comoros in June 2017 in Blantyre.

Cameroon has already qualified as hosts and is only using the qualifying campaign to gauge its stars. They will be in Maroni to face Comoros on Saturday.

Head-to-head stats give the Atlas Lions the upper hand as they have won five games, drawn twice and lost once to Malawi in previous meetings.

“We have enough respect for Morocco because they are a top team in Africa and they are fresh from the World Cup where they did well despite that they exited the competition prematurely,” Malawi team manager James Sangala told the Africa football governing body CAF.

“We have the chances of progressing from this group. A win can do us a lot of good and get ahead of Morocco. Most of the times, when you play away, you need to play it safe and not get carried away. We will go there and play our game. We do not have to fear them,” Sangala.

Elsewhere, South Africa faces injury challenges ahead of their clash with Libya in Durban on Saturday. South Africa holds the upper hand after a 2-0 win away in Uyo against host Nigeria last year.

France-based midfielder, Bongani Zungu alongside Hlompho Kekana and Themba Zwane have all been ruled out forcing coach Stuart Baxter to call up Tiyani Mabunda, Aubrey Modiba and Vincent Pule to his side.

“However, we need to be humble in our approach to this Libya game. Looking at global football, names have become less and less important and even on the African continent, we get constant surprises from teams that would have been whipping boys few years ago,” said coach Baxter.

Seychelles host Nigeria in the other Group E clash in Victoria also on Saturday. Egypt begins a new era under Mexican coach Javier Aguirre when they face Niger in Alexandria on Saturday while Tunisia travels to Mavuso as guests of Swaziland in the other match of Group J on Sunday.

Group L has Lesotho against Cape Verde on Sunday in Maseru while Uganda will face regional foes Tanzania on Saturday in Kampala. 



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