Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced today that midfielder Nizar Khalfan (Tanzania) and striker Mustapha Jarju (The Gambia) have been called up by their respective countries for 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying early next month.
Both players will report to their respective national teams on Monday, August 29, in preparation for important qualifying matches on the Labour Day holiday weekend of September 3 and 4. With Whitecaps FC not in Major League Soccer action that weekend, Jarju and Khalfan will not miss any league matches while on international duty.
For Khalfan and Tanzania, the Taifa Stars need to avoid defeat at home to North African powerhouse Algeria in Group D on Saturday, September 3, if the East African nation is to remain in the hunt for the finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea next year. As for Jarju and The Gambia, they travel to Namibia for a crucial Group F clash on Sunday, September 4, with The Scorpions looking to close the gap on group leaders Burkina Faso. Both The Gambia and Tanzania will wrap up their Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaigns in early October.
Since joining Whitecaps FC on July 12, Jarju has started two of his four league appearances for 178 minutes of action. Khalfan, meanwhile, has started five of his 18 league appearances for 718 minutes of action, with the midfielder also appearing in all four of Vancouver's matches during this year's Nutrilite Canadian Championship.
Both Jarju and Khalfan have the potential of meeting each other in 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying. Should Tanzania defeat Chad in a two-leg, aggregate goal series, Khalfan's Taifa Stars would advance to an African zone group that includes star-studded Côte d'Ivoire, North African powerhouse Morocco, and Jarju's Gambia.
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