CAF Qualifying, Group A: Ethiopia progress, South Africa fail to qualify

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This weekend sees the end of the second round of qualifying in Africa. 12 countries were eliminated in the first round, and the remaining 40 teams seeded into 10 groups based on each country’s FIFA ranking.

The CAF qualifying structure is perhaps overly reliant on the FIFA rankings, allowing no room for manuevering. With those rankings based on how a country has played over the course of a longer period of time, teams that have recently risen to the top are still given lower numbers. This time around, Ghana, ranked third in Africa by FIFA, were seeded into Group D, where Zambia, winners of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, also landed. Ghana’s win over Zambia on Friday means Zambia are out of the running.

But that was yesterday, and this is today, when Group A kicked off the play in Africa. Prior to Saturday, the standings were already tight, although Central Africa Republic was out of the running. Both Botswana and South Africa were hoping for a surprise victory by the CAR, whereas Ethiopia needed a win to assure progression.

In the end, there were no miracles, no divine intervention. Ethiopia beat Central African Republic to progress, and the other countries will set their sights on Russia.

South Africa 4-1 Botswana

Ouch. This has got to be painful for South Africa. The Bafana Bafana had a 2-0 lead by halftime. Then Botswana had the temerity to score in the 73rd minute. As punishment, Bernard Parker added two more, the last of which was a converted penalty in the 89th minute. Alas, their efforts were in vain, because…

Central African Republic 1-2 Ethiopia

For the first half, it looked as though South Africa might have a chance. They were up 2-0 over Botswana and, somehow, Central African Republic were beating Ethiopia. But then reality set in and Ethiopia came fighting back after the break, scoring two goals before the hour mark. The three points put them atop the table and handed Ethiopia, who actually began qualification as one of the lower seeded teams, the chance to prove themselves in the third and final round of qualifying.


Report: David Silva out 2-3 weeks with ligament damage

LOGRONO, SPAIN - OCTOBER 09:  David Silva of Spain is fouled by Lars Gerson of Luxembourg during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier group C match between Spain and Luxembourg at Estadio Municipal Las Gaunas on October 9, 2015 in Logrono, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
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Despite sitting at the top of the table in the Premier League, things are not going well for Manchester City.

Star striker and leading goalscorer Sergio Aguero suffered a torn hamstring while playing for Argentina, and now he is joined by David Silva on the injured list.

Silva lasted nine minutes in Spain’s EURO qualifying match against Luxembourg, forced off after taking a bad challenge from behind. Silva went down in pain and tried to play on, but asked for a substitution just minutes later.

[ RELATED: Alejandro Bedoya to miss USMNT vs. Mexico ]

Spanish news outlet AS is reporting that Silva has suffered “lateral internal ligament damage in his right ankle,” and could face 2-3 weeks on the sidelines.

With Aguero set to miss at least a month, Silva’s injury could leave Manchester City without two of their top players in the coming weeks.

Silva has arguably been the best player in the Premier League this season, the quarterback of the City attack, which has scored a league-leading 19 goals through eight matches.

City travels to Old Trafford for the Manchester derby on October 25, which falls into that 2-3 week range for Silva’s recovery. In a match that could decide who sits top of the table, Manuel Pellegrini would be very shorthanded without Silva and Aguero.

Alejandro Bedoya to miss USMNT vs. Mexico

GLASGOW,  SCOTLAND - NOVEMBER 15 :  Alejandro Bedoya of USA  in action during the International Friendly match between Scotland and USA at Hampden Park on November 15, 2013.  (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)
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Alejandro Bedoya will not feature for the United States in the CONCACAF playoff against Mexico on Saturday, and has been replaced on the roster by Bobby Wood.

Bedoya traveled to Los Angeles from his club team Nantes in France, but Jurgen Klinsmann has announced he will be unable to play after falling ill.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]

Without Bedoya, Union Berlin midfielder Bobby Wood has been added to the USMNT side. Wood scored the first two goals of his international career this summer in wins over the Netherlands and Germany, and has scored four goals in ten matches for Union Berlin this season. Wood has been training with the U.S. camp throughout the week for the upcoming friendly against Costa Rica.

Bedoya has played well for the USMNT, discounting his short performance against Brazil in September. In that match, Klinsmann played Bedoya out of position against a potent Brazil attack, and he was substituted before halftime. However, playing in his more natural role as a winger or attacking midfielder, many believed Bedoya could be in line for a start against Mexico.