Africans first to qualify for finals

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The Independent Online
Nigeria and Morocco have become the first two countries to qualify for the World Cup finals in France next year.

Nigeria, who won the Olympic football tournament last year, beat Kenya, their closest rivals in Africa's Group One, 3-0 on Saturday. Nigeria's goals were scored by Sunday Oliseh, Emmanuel Amunike and Wilson Oruma.

On the same day, Khalid Raghib's goal in the 77th minute gave Morocco a 1-0 victory over Ghana. Morocco are seven points ahead of Ghana in Group Five with one match remaining.

South Africa are on the brink of going to France after their 3-0 defeat of Zambia yesterday. The African champions need to beat Congo at home next month to be certain of making their first appearance in the finals.

Goals from Helman Mkhalele and the former Leeds United player, Phil Masinga, in the first 16 minutes effectively ended Zambia's challenge and their World Cup hopes.

Zambia were unable to find a way through a South African defence expertly marshalled by a current Leeds player, Lucas Radebe. Mark Williams scored South Africa's third goal in the 74th minute.

In Europe, Denmark consolidated their position at the top of Group One with a 2-0 defeat of Bosnia yesterday. Denmark have 13 points from five games and Greece are in second place with 10 points from six games.

A fine save by Peter Schmeichel early in the second half prevented Bosnia taking the lead. Marc Rieper's 61st-minute header put Denmark ahead and Miklos Molnar scored the second goal in the final minute

In Group Nine, Portugal, with goals from Joao Pinto and Luis Figo, easily beat Albania 2-0 on Saturday night. Their victory kept up the pressure on Ukraine and Germany, who drew 0-0 in Kiev.

Ukraine lead the group with 14 points from eight matches. Germany are two points behind with two games in hand. Portugal also have 12 points, but they have played one more match than Germany.

In Italy, Brescia secured promotion to Serie A yesterday with one match of the season remaining after drawing 1-1 with Reggina in Reggio Calabria. The remaining three promotion places will be decided next weekend, with Empoli, Lecce, Bari and Genoa in contention.

Cosenza, Cesena, Palermo and Cremonese have been relegated from Serie B to Serie C.

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