African stars shift focus to WC qualifiers

Share

A host of African stars will now switch their attention to the 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifiers and hope to help their countries reach the global showpiece in Qatar next year.

Only the 10 group winners advance to the final qualifying round and Egypt and fellow first seeds Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco and the Democratic Republic of Congo have some catching-up to do in the October international break.

GROUP A

African champions Algeria, who boast a talented forward line which includes Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez, have an impressive home record against Niger in World Cup qualifying, scoring 10 unanswered goals in two matches.

Algeria are riding an African record 29-match unbeaten run, but second-placed Burkina Faso can keep pace by defeating Djibouti.

GROUP B

Group leaders Tunisia are yet to lose in four previous World Cup qualifiers against Mauritania, and there is nothing to suggest they will not extend that perfect record in Rades.

A Tunisian side captained by Saint-Etienne’s Wahbi Khazri head into the match boosted by two impressive victories while the Mauritanians will be disappointed with themselves after losing twice already.

GROUP C

Central African Republic face leaders Nigeria without star player, Godfrey Kondogbia of Atletico Madrid.

After a routine home win against Liberia last month, a severely weakened Super Eagles side triumphed away to Cape Verde and they will be back to full strength for the match in Lagos.

GROUP D

Considered the toughest to win as rivals Cameroon and the Ivory Coast have qualified for the World Cup 10 times between them.

The Ivorians hold a one-point lead thanks to a 2-1 home win over the Cameroonians, but the poor state of the pitch at the recently opened national stadium in Abidjan means they must host Malawi in Benin.

Ajax Amsterdam striker Sebastien Haller scored twice against the Indomitable Lions and he’s expected to lead the charge against Malawi.

GROUP E

Mali have made a good start in the only section that does not contain a previous World Cup qualifier, building a two-point advantage over Kenya and Uganda with Rwanda.

A Malian squad including Southampton winger Moussa Djenepo, RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara and Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Yves Bissouma are handicapped by having to play home matches in Morocco due to the poor state of their stadiums, but they are favoured to beat Kenya.

GROUP F

Liverpool attacker Mohammed Salah will be hoping to help the Pharaohs of Egypt get their qualification campaign back on track when they take on Group F leaders Libya.

Fresh from scoring a brilliant goal for Liverpool against Manchester City on Sunday, Salah spearheads the record seven-time African champions when they face surprise Group F leaders Libya home and away.

The Pharaohs need at least four points to take over first place ahead of the final two rounds in November.

Libya topped the group after snatching a late home victory over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Gabon and then winning away in Angola.

After shading Angola, Egypt were lucky to hold Gabon and the draw cost coach Hossam el Badry his job with former Real Madrid manager and Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz taking over.

GROUP G

Pace-setters South Africa face bogey team Ethiopia, who took four points off them in the 2014 qualifiers, leading to Bafana Bafana coaches Pitso Mosimane and Gordon Igesund being sacked by the South African Football Association (Safa).

Ghana and Zimbabwe will have new coaches for back to back meetings with Serb Milovan Rajevac replacing Charles Akonnor as the new coach and Norman Mapeza succeeding Croatian Zdravko Logarusic for the Warriors.

Ghana will be pleased to see the return of rising star Mohamed Kudus who is tipped for a bright future in national team colours.

GROUP H

Sadio Mane’s Senegal could seal first place with two victories over closest challengers Namibia, another country affected by stadium standards and forced to host matches in neighbouring South Africa.

The biggest threat to the Senegalese will probably come from Peter Shalulile, a consistent scorer for Mamelodi Sundowns, the champions of South Africa.

GROUP I

Morocco, whose first choice line-up includes star Sevilla forward Youssef En-Nesyri, will play ‘away’ matches against Guinea-Bissau and Guinea at home, giving them a huge advantage.

Leaders Guinea-Bissau do not have an international-standard stadium while Fifa currently considers Guinea an unsafe destination after a coup forced Morocco to flee Conakry last month.

GROUP J

Tanzania were seeded fourth, but lead Benin on goals scored with favourites DR Congo third and without a win despite two goals from recalled 35-year-old striker, Dieumerci Mbokani.

The top two meet in Dar es Salaam and Cotonou and former Aston Villa forward Mbwana Samatta captains a Tanzanian team coached by Danish coach, Kim Poulsen.

RELATED ARTICLE: Afcon 2021 qualifiers: Players to watch

By FARPost Reporter