Nigerians celebrate

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The Independent Online
England may have to wait until November before they learn their World Cup qualifying fate - but one country already know they will be taking part in next year's finals.

Nigeria became the first country to qualify for the finals in France when they beat Kenya 3-0 in Lagos yesterday. Sunday Oliseh opened the scoring in the 12th minute, then Emmanuel Amunike hit the second goal two minutes before half-time. Wilson Oruma sealed Kenya's fate in the 81st minute.

Nigeria now have an unassailable lead at the top of Group One of the African qualifying tournament. The Olympic champions have qualified for their second consecutive finals - they reached the second round of the tournament in 1994.

In last night's European World Cup qualifiers, Manchester City's Georgi Kinkladze was on target with a second-half penalty as Georgia secured a 2-0 home win over Moldova in Batumi. Shota Arveladze had opened the scoring in the first half.

The win gave the Georgians their first points in Group Two, England's section, but their only remaining aim is to avoid bottom place as Italy and Glenn Hoddle's team have already secured the top two places.

A week after his side were beaten 2-0 at home by England, Poland's coach Antoni Piechniczek resigned. His deputy, Krzysztof Pawlak, will take over for next Saturday's home game against Georgia.

Ukraine held on to first place in Group Nine but will be disappointed that an unambitious German side escaped from Kiev with a 0-0 draw. Ukraine's Sergei Rebrov came closest to scoring with a long-range shot that hit the post late in the first half. Ukraine have two more points than the Germans, who have two games in hand.

The Republic of Ireland have slipped from second to third place in Group Eight. A second-half goal from Georgi Hristov gave Macedonia, who are now three points above Mick McCarthy's side having played one extra game, a 1-0 home win over Iceland in Skopje.

McCarthy was given a two-year extension to his current contract as manager, which had been due to expire after the World Cup finals, at yesterday's Football Association of Ireland Board of Management meeting in Athlone. There were 19 delegates voting for McCarthy, none against and two abstentions.

Scotland's Under-21 side went down to the fifth defeat of their European Under-21 Championship qualifying campaign in Minsk yesterday. However, there was little disgrace in losing 1-0 to the impressive Group Four leaders, Belarus. A short back-pass by the Scottish captain, Gary Locke of Hearts, allowed Nikolai Rynduk to squeeze home the only goal of the game in the 70th minute.