World Cup 2002 - African qualification

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the match facts and reports:
Group A
Group B
Group C
Group D
Group E
the complete schedule, results, tables

World Cup 2002 - African qualification
Group D  match facts + reports
Tunisia, Côte d'Ivoire, Congo, DR Congo, Madagascar
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week1 June 16-18, 2000 
Whether this group will become close depends on whether one of the three Congo, DR Congo, and Côte d'Ivoire will take points from each other or whether there will emerge a challenger for Tunisia.

Tunisia themselves will have to do their job: On Sunday they play at Côte d'Ivoire, arguably the top challenger. If the Ivorians win, this group will become a thriller (at least for some time), otherwise it will be already a big leap forward for the Tunisians.
In the second match DR Congo will play at Madagascar, a team that will be a problem for many teams at home. 
(idle: Congo)
Côte d'Ivoire - Tunisia  2:2 
detailed match report on extra page
Madagascar - DR Congo  3:0
1:0 ('18) Andrianaivo, 2:0 ('51) Rasoanaivo (pen.), 3:0 ('73) Andrianaivo

week2  July 8-9, 2000 
Huge first week winners Madagascar will be severely tested here: are they only a threat at home or can they scare the big group favorite a bit?

Huge first week losers Congo DR already with the backs to the wall while the little brother could collect valuable points against opponents with a shaken confidence.
Tunisia - Madagascar 1:0 July 8 1800 GMT
detailed match report on extra page
Congo DR - Congo 2:0  July 9
Janson Mayele 44, Ngidi Yemweni 74, att. 70,000
* Congo later withdrew 

week3  Jan 26-28, 2001 
In Group D Côte d'Ivoire, already under pressure, bravely continued their fight against any continuity by appointing the 10000th coach since their success at the African Nations Cup 1992. It is a group that could go the 'normal' way: Tunisia draws away, wins at home, while the others take the points off each other. To avoid this scenario Côte d'Ivoire had to win at Madagascar, which is most difficult, and hope for a Tunisian slip in the difficult circumstances in the away match at Congo, where every result seemed possible.
But Madagascar themselves had developed some decent football and with the Ivorian problems in the background it looked still possible, any of the three outsiders, Congo, Madagascar, DR Congo, could turn out eventually as Tunisian challangers.
This option seems more unlikely now after as well the Ivorians as the Tunisians achieved valuable away wins, blows which Madagascar and Congo will have difficulties to overcome.
The Ivorians were lucky that their match was abandoned an hour played, Madagascar 1:0 leading, because of heavy rain and replayed a day later. This time they had the better end, winning 3:1. 
Madagascar - Côte d'Ivoire 1:3
0:1('38) Bakayoko, 0:2 ('46) Bakayoko, 1:2 ('58) Menakely, 1:3('86) Bakayoko
att. 50,000?
Congo - Tunisia 1:2
* Congo later withdrew 

between week3 and week4
Congo has withdrawn form World Cup qualifiers in Group D. The whole story sounds rather dubious although the arguments 'two big competitions (CAN and World Cup) are too much for such a troubled country' sound logical.. 
Clear is that it is essential for league sports that all members of a league play all matches seriously and not stop playing as soon as they cannot win a league anymore. But this is the reason that Congo gave: they cannot qualify anymore and want to concentrate on the other competition instead.
Meanwhile Congo has rejected reports it had withdrawn from this withdrawl to avoid a costly punishment: Congo faces losing half of the FIFA money paid for each team which participated at the World Cup 1998 (including qualification) which partly still has to be paid (reports speak of 500,000 $ US).
What really went on behind the scenes remains speculation and far more than two or three scenarios are possible here. The winners now are Côte d'Ivoire because the Tunisians will lose the three valuable away points they gained at Congo a few weeks ago.
Maybe the program CAF designed for the World Cup qualifiers with 5 team groups was a bit overambitious when involving teams with such a problematic domestic background as Congo or Sierra Leone, partly having to play African Cup qualifiers at the same time and with so many teams out of the race early because the system is 1 out of 5 in each group.

week4 Feb 23-25, 2001 
In Group D Congo has withdrawn from the competition and the points won from the matches involving them are most likely to become worthless (yet has to be ruled upon officially). A break for Côte d'Ivoire, the only remaining challengers for the yet perfectly preperating and executing Tunisians who had already taken three points from their difficult away match at Congo four weeks ago. 
On Sunday they proved the superior quality of their domestic professionalism and demolished thoroughly prepared any hopes left for the troubled DR Congo.
The question whether the 'Elephants' will really be able to challenge the North Africans will become predecided in their upcoming two away matches: first at the now unpredictable DR Congo and then the direct encounter at Tunis. 
Tunisia - DR Congo  6:0
detailed match report on extra page

week5  Mar 9-11, 2001 
DR Congo - Côte d'Ivoire  1:2
0:1 ('16) Guel, 0:2 ('45) Bakayoko, 1:2 ('90) Kimoto, att. 60,000
Côte d'Ivoire, who had prepared throroughly for one week at Kinshasa, have taken three most crucial points in their away game at the DR Congo. DR Congo's team management had been shaken after the disaster at Tunis which followed a intensive preperation for the possibilities of the Congolese. Due to reports only the coach himself had been left in the job but the changes did take no effect resultwise.
With Congo (Brazzaville) withdrawn the Ivorians now face the summit at Tunis against Tunisia and after that two remaining home matches. They cannot count on Tunisia losing points somewhere else and with the good Tunisian goal difference they might have to go for three points in the match against a Tunisian squad which might be suddenly irritated by the unexpected change of coach (Italian Scolgio returned to Italy to 'save' his home club Genova and has been replaced by German Krautzun).

week6  Apr 20-22, 2001 
Côte d'Ivoire - Congo 2:0
1:0 ('39) Kader Keita, 2:0 ('85) Bakayoko
DR Congo - Madagascar 1:0
goal: pen. ('42)

Strange things are going on behind the scenes of this group. Congo who had withdrawn from the qualifiers have been 'talked' back in, by FIFA, as reports say. Strange because of the patience FIFA had for Congo while they eliminated Guinea very quickly from Group E and gave problems to organise dates for delayed matches als a reason for the promptness of the decision. Strange because of the pushing and shuffling over the dates of the cancelled Congo matches.
What looked like a break for Côte d'Ivoire has now turned to their disadvantage. They had prepared for the Tunisia match only to learn a fortnight before that the match would be switched to May and they will have to play the Congo match, (scheduled for May 27th) instead this weekend. Might be a break for Tunisia who have to adjust to their coaching changes. And perhaps a problem for the Ivorians: this weekend the French League does not play because of the cup semifinals. On the new date the qualifier will collide with the last weekend of the French Division 1 with some possibly crucial matches on the agenda.
All this should not distract the Ivorians from the match to take place this Sunday which is not automatically won. It should feature the premiere for Lille's Dagui Bakary but he withdrew his decision to play for the Ivorians who had to play without injured Bonaventure Kalou also.
Meanwhile Madagascar is trying to get over the tragic loss of their success coach and lost both matches since, an important Nations Cup qualifier and todays rather meaningless game at Kinshasa.

week7  May 4-6, 2001 

Madagascar - Tunisia 0:2
Since the first leg, in which Madagascar had Tunisia on the verge of losing points at home, the team from the East African island has lost a lot of momentum. Tunisia had prepared thoroughly and everything else than a Tunisian victory would have been a setback for the ambitious North Africans. But away matches in Africa are never automatically won and Tunisia needed the required luck a second time and scored two late goals by Ali Zitouni('84) and Mhdhebi ('90) to win the match.
Congo - DR Congo 1:1

delayed match

May 19 or 20, 2001
Tunisia - Côte d'Ivoire 1:1
detailed match report on extra page


Jun 29-Jul 1, 2001 
Côte d'Ivoire - Madagascar 6:0
Bakayoko 24, 39 pen., Kader Keita 47, Yapi Yapo 72, Fadel Keita 76, Bakayoko '83
Tunisia - Congo 6:0
detailed match report on extra page

week9  Jul 13-15, 2001
DR Congo - Tunisia  0:3
detailed match report on extra page
Congo - Côte d'Ivoire 1:1 
2 goals in short time in the last 5 minutes at Pointe Noire: 1:1, the Ivorians took the lead 4 minutes to the end but Congo got a penalty 2 minutes later and spoiled the Ivorian dream of going to the World Cup.
Tunisia are qualified

week10  Jul 27-29, 2001

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