JOHANNESBURG — Cape Verde Islands secured a place at the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time Sunday and former champions Ethiopia are back in the big time after a 30-year absence.
The much-hyped return of striker and captain Samuel Eto'o helped four-time champions Cameroon to a 2-1 home win over Cape Verde, but a 3-2 aggregate loss means a second consecutive failure to reach the African football showcase.
Alula Girma and Saladin Seid scored within three minutes during the second half in Addis Ababa to earn Ethiopia a 2-0 victory over Sudan and a ticket to South Africa next January on away goals after a 5-5 aggregate deadlock.
An early Antonio Pereira goal was just what Cape Verde needed to settle the nerves in the intimidating cauldron of a packed 60,000-seat Ahmadou Ahidjo stadium in Yaounde.
Achille Emana levelled soon after and there was relentless Indomitable Lions second-half pressure, including an Eto'o attempt that rebounded off the woodwork, but all they had to show for it was a late Fabrice Olinga goal.
Eto'o was back after a year of international inactivity due to an eight-month ban imposed by the national football federation for instigating a bonus-related boycott of a friendly in Algeria.
He also refused to turn up for the first leg in Cape Verde last month, labelling the national squad "amateurish and badly managed", and his absence contributed to the worst day in Cameroonian football.
Portuguese-speaking Cape Verde is an archipelago off the coast of Senegal with a population of just 500,000, and the national squad consists mainly of footballers at unfashionable European clubs.
The qualification of the Ethiopian Black Lions confirmed a recent upsurge of fortunes that has seen them lead a 2014 World Cup qualifying group after holding South Africa away and defeating Central African Republic at home.
They also won on away goals against Benin in the first elimination round for the 2013 Cup of Nations and now return to a tournament they won for the only time 50 years ago.
Sudan won a goal-flush first encounter 5-3 thanks to a late Mohamed Al Tahir brace and were barely troubled during the opening half at the national stadium in the heart of the Ethiopian capital.
As the hour mark passed without a goal it was looking good for the visitors, and then Girma and Egypt-based Seid turned the match on its head to the delight of a sell-out 30,000 crowd.
Former Manchester United signing Manucho Goncalves scored twice in the early minutes in Luanda to secure a 2-0 win for Angola over Zimbabwe, overall victory on away goals after a 3-3 tie, and a fifth consective Africa Cup appearance.
Niger left it much later to upset Guinea 2-0 and squeeze through on aggregate after a solitary-goal first leg loss with Mohamed Chikoto and Issoufou Garba netting in the closing stages.
Emmanuel Adebayor of Tottenham was on target for Togo in a 2-1 win over 2012 co-hosts Gabon, who were held at home in the first leg. Wome Dove was the other Togolese marksman and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang grabbed a late consolation goal.
Another elder runner also made his mark during Sunday’s race.
Ed Whitlock, 81, of Milton, Ont., broke the record for runners in the 80-plus category.
Delays for drivers
The run has created some big delays for drivers in the city on Sunday morning.
Lake Shore Boulevard is closed from Windermere Avenue to Jarvis Street.
The Gardiner Expressway cannot be accessed at York, Bay and Yonge streets. While the Spadina Avenue exit is open, there is a big backup of cars on the highway in both directions, with motorists trying to use that exit.
There are also some diversions to street car service as a result of the run.
Most of the road closures will be over by the early afternoon.
Mens and women's races both decided by less than a second
Elfneshe Yado raises her arms in victory at the women's… (Kim Hairston, Baltimore…)
October 13, 2012|By Chris Trevino | The Baltimore Sun
Running through the streets of a still slumbering city, fighting off cramps, the chill October air and the dozens of runners around him, Stephen Muange once again tasted victory in Charm City, claiming his second consecutive Baltimore Marathon championship.
The Kenya native defended his 2011 title with a personal best time of 2:13:08, three hundredths of a second ahead of second-place finisher Tesfaye Alemayehu of Ethiopia. It broke the record Muange set last year for narrowest margin of victory in the men's marathon.
Elfneshe Yado, 25, of Ethiopia beat Malika Mejdoub literally by a nose to win the women's marathon. It was so close both women finished with a time of 2:38:46. Yado was determined the winner visually by judges, who determined she finished an inch ahead of Mejdoub.
"I'm very happy. … I'm very proud of myself and I'm happy that I won," Yado said through a translator. "I feel like a warrior."
In addition to it being Yado's first Baltimore Marathon, it is also her first time in the United States.
Muange captured the city's attention last year after winning despite never having raced in a marathon before and lacking the knowledge of how to pace a 26.2-mile distance. But despite his newly gained experience, the 31-year-old knew it would still be equally as challenging in 2012.
"This year there were many, many more runners [compared] to last year," said Muange. "So the race this year was more competitive than last year ... it was harder."
In its 12th year, the Baltimore Running Festival set a record with about 27,000 participants, breaking last year's mark by about 2,000. Muange outlasted a marathon field of 22 elite or professional runners — two more had scratched the day before.
The men's field remained a tight pack for the majority of the race, the first major separation coming from Abdelhadi El Mouaziz of Morocco in the 10th and 11th mile.
Around the 15th mile, Muange made his move and claimed the lead alongside fellow Kenyan Ernest Kebenei. The two built a huge lead with the help of two consecutive sub-five minute split times in the 17th and 18th miles.
Only Alemayehu and Julius Koskei could keep up with the pair, leaving only four in the running for the championship.
"I trained very well before the race, so I was not [afraid] of anything," Muange said.
Coming down the stretch in the final three miles, long after Kebenei and Koskei has dropped off, Alemayehu repeatedly tried to break away from Muange, but the defending champion would not allow it. As both runners entered Camden Yards for the final 350 yards, Muange said he didn't know how it would finish.
"I was not sure if I would win the race, but I thought if [Tesfaye] wins, it's OK and if I win it's [also] okay," he said.
But the Kenyan pulled out the magic once again, wowing the hundreds gathered at the finish line. When it was clear Muange had officially claimed his second title, which comes with a $25,000 prize, one spectator was caught up in the moment more than others.
"I was crying, crying tears of joy, like he was my child. We were just so proud of him," said Lisa Doherty, whose family was serving as hosts to Muange. Doherty and her husband, Joe, along with their two young boys embraced Muange after he emerged from the runners' tent.
"You took care of me, that's why I won," Muange said with a grin.
For next year, Yado and Muange said they plan to return to Baltimore to defend their titles. While it maybe hard to out-do the two closest races in the event's history, the chance is there, especially for Muange who will try for a three-peat.
"I don't know [if I can]," he said, "but I will come and try."