By David Legge
JOHANNESBURG, Aug 10, 2010 (AFP) - Africa will try to put a largely disappointing 2010 World Cup challenge behind it on Wednesday in a series of friendlies from the Baltic to the Far East.
Cameroon, who failed to secure a single World Cup point and were the first of 32 challengers eliminated, face Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland in Szczecin on the shores of the Baltic.
Nigeria, another first round flop in South Africa two months ago, make the long journey east to Suwon, 30 kilometres south of capital city Seoul, for a second match against South Korea within three months after a 2-2 Durban draw.
World Cup quarter-finalists Ghana, the sole African contenders to survive the first round, face 2010 hosts South Africa in Johannesburg minus fit-again midfielder Michael Essien.
Algeria, who held England but could not manage even one goal in three World Cup group encounters, host 2012 African Nations Cup co-hosts Gabon in another high-profile friendly.
Reigning African champions Egypt meet the Democratic Republic of Congo in Cairo, Emmanuel Adebayor-less Togo are in Saudi Arabia and Palestine fly to north-west Africa for a Nouakchott showdown with fellow minnows Mauritania.
A trend to stage friendlies in Europe, where so many African footballers operate, also continues with Burkina Faso and Congo clashing in Paris, Guinea and Mali in Marseille and Angola and Uruguay in Lisbon.
Matches are also scheduled for Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Kampala, Maputo, Porto Novo and Rabat as teams prepare for the start of the 2012 African Nations Cup qualifiers next month.
Star striker Samuel Eto'o from European champions Inter Milan has been named by caretaker coach and former Cameroon goalkeeper Jacques Songo'o for the clash with Poland.
But Rigobert Song, the beanpole, dreadlocked defender who has been part of the national team set-up for two decades, will be a notable absentee having quit international football after 17 minutes of World Cup action.
Nigeria would have reached the World Cup last-16 had they defeated the Koreans but were foiled by the miss of the tournament from Everton striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni, who shot wide from in front of an unguarded goal.
Yakubu will not get an immediate chance to atone for that blunder as he is among a host of Europe-based stars not travelling and stand-in coach Austin Eguavoen has included nine local-based stars.
Ghana have opted not to risk Chelsea star Essien, recovering from a knee injury sustained last January while training at the African Nations Cup in Angola.
Troublesome Inter Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari has also been omitted, but Serb coach Milovan Rajevac can choose seven of the 11 who started against Uruguay in a controversial last-eight game settled by a penalty shoot-out.
This match marks the debut of former South Africa striker Pitso Mosimane as coach in succession to Brazilian Carlos Alberto Parreira and he has kept faith with most of the squad eliminated after the first round.
There is no place in the Egyptian squad for consistent scorer Emad Moteab, who quit Belgian club Standard Liege after only one appearance following a mid-year transfer.
And Manchester City goal poacher Adebayor shows no signs of ending his latest retirement, sparked by a fatal attack on the Togolese squad when it crossed into Angola from Congo ahead of the Nations Cup.
Angola will not have to deal with the twin threat of World Cup player of the tournament Diego Forlan and fellow striker Luis Suarez when they confront shock fourth-place finishers Uruguay as the duo are rested.
The friendlies also see a number of foreign coaches getting a first look at new teams, including Italian Dario Bonetti with Zambia, Dane Jan Poulsen with Tanzania and former France midfield star Alain Giresse with Mali.