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 By Mark Gleeson

Cape Verde emerging as a power in African football

Cape Verde are hoping to reach their first World Cup in 2018 in Russia.
Cape Verde are hoping to reach their first World Cup in 2018 in Russia.

FIFA's latest rankings have the Cape Verde Islands up to 33rd place in world football and a remarkable second on the African continent, below the Ivory Coast but above the other heavyweights of the continent, like Algeria, Ghana, Senegal and Nigeria. It is a most extraordinary achievement for one of the continent's smallest countries.

The island archipelago has a population of just over 500,000, have only a semi-professional domestic league and had not even competed in major tournament qualifiers...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Nigeria and Ghana advance to CAF group stage in World Cup qualifying

Ivory Coast players celebrate during their win against Liberia.

Nigeria advanced to the third round of African qualifying for the 2018 World Cup with a 2-0 win over Swaziland on Tuesday.

After a goalless first leg, the Super Eagles finally found a breakthrough in the 52nd minute when Moses Simon curled in a free kick.

Nigeria allowed the visitors few chances from that point and doubled their advantage with Fefe Ambrose's free kick in the 87th minute.

Phumlani Dlamini was sent off in stoppage time for Swaziland as Nigeria reached the group stage.

Ghana also moved...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana all draw as Cape Verde fall in World Cup qualifying

African giants Nigeria, Senegal and Ghana were all held to draws away from home as their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaigns got off to shaky starts.

All of the African sides must get through a two-legged tie before reaching the group stage, and many of the major sides failed to gain an edge in their away legs on Friday.

Senegal needed to rally from a two-goal deficit to force a 2-2 draw at Madagascar, a nation 79 places below them in the FIFA rankings.

Faneva Andriatsima and Njiva Rakotoharimalala...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

South Sudan's World Cup dreams end in African qualifying

South Sudan's first World Cup qualifying campaign ended early following a 4-0 defeat at Mauritania on Tuesday.

Moulaye Khalil and Boubacar Beyguili had already scored for the hosts before Aluck Akeuch Deng's 79th-minute red card for the new nation, and Moussa Samba Moussa and Ismail Diakite completed the rout.

Mauritania won 5-1 on aggregate and advance to face Tunisia in the second round of qualifying in November.

Chad advanced on away goals despite a 2-1 defeat at Sierra Leone, a team 54 places...

 By Tom Marshall

Cape Verde's Djaniny treading an unusual path in Mexico at Santos

Djaniny Tavares has helped spark Santos Laguna to the Liga MX Liguilla semifinals.
Djaniny Tavares has helped spark Santos Laguna to the Liga MX Liguilla semifinals.

TORREON, Mexico -- Only one player from Africa has ever won Mexico's first division title, but Santos Laguna's Djaniny Tavares is hoping that number will double in coming days.

The 24-year-old Cape Verde international is about to complete a year since signing for Los Guerreros and, while Mexico isn't exactly a well-trodden path for African talent, Djaniny has been impressing of late, netting a fine winner in the Clausura 2015 quarterfinal against Tigres last Sunday.

The physical and speedy...