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WC Qualification Africa

African World Cup playoffs: Ranking all 10 contenders

9:49 AM IST 22/01/22
Samuel Chukwueze Kelechi Iheanacho Nigeria Afcon 2022
GOAL ranks the 10 African sides still standing in the World Cup qualifying campaign

  • Tanzania vs DR Congo.

    Democratic Republic of Congo

    They made hard work of The Group of Life, and only qualified with a final-day victory over Benin.

    The DRC did end their campaign strongly, but they may struggle against the absolute biggest sides on the continent.

  • Mali players celebrate

    Mali

    Convincing during qualifying, only dropping points away at Uganda—their toughest match of the group stage—but can Mali finally get over the line?

    They’re the only side still standing who have never previously reached the World Cup, but with the likes of Ibrahima Kone and Adama Malouda Traore, they have players who can hurt their opponents.

    Their Africa Cup of Nations campaign so far has been solid if unspectacular.

  • Mohamed Sherif - afsha - egypt - gabon 16-11-2021 محمد شريف - أفشة - مصر - الجابون

    Egypt

    Despite navigating a tricky qualifying group, there’s still a sense that Egypt haven’t truly shaken off the misery of their ignominious Afcon exit at the hands of South Africa on home soil, and they've certainly been unconvincing at the Afcon so far.

    Mohamed Salah didn’t score during the group stage, yet he remains their key threat when it comes to taking down the continent’s big boys.

    They find themselves in Pot Two ahead of the draw, which could really cost them as they look to reach Qatar.

  • Andre Ayew Ghana South Africa

    Ghana

    Defeated away in South Africa, and held by Ethiopia, but Ghana have enjoyed genuine improvement over the last year, even if the Nations Cup proved a major reality check.

    There were some (high-profile) question marks about their victory over South Africa, but the return of Milovan Rajevac has helped the Black Stars pick up some momentum, although whether much can be salvaged from the disastrous Afcon sejour remains to be seen.

    Their squad boasts experienced campaigners, while the likes of Mohammed Kudus and Kamaldeen Sulemana are finding their feet as international performers of quality.

  • Ali Maaloul Tunisia Zambia CAF WCQ 2022 17.11.2021

    Tunisia

    Hardly glittering during qualification, and unconvincing during the Nations Cup, Tunisia had to push to the final day to get over the line after suffering an unexpected 1-0 defeat by Equatorial Guinea in Malabo.

    However, they are a well organised and disciplined bunch, led by the evergreen Wahbi Khazri, and have qualified for four of the last six tournaments.

    They are massively helped by being seeded ahead of the draw.

  • Karl Toko Ekambi, Cameroon vs Ivory Coast, November 2021

    Cameroon

    Unconvincing in recent years as they tried to move on from the underwhelming Clarence Seedorf experiment, but Cameroon deserve credit for advancing from Group D.

    Their final day victory over Ivory Coast appears to have given them the impetus they need to go on and enjoy a strong Nations Cup on home soil, and unless something disastrous happens over the next fortnight, they look well placed to make an impact in the playoffs.

    They still retain a spine of big-game players who know how to get the job done.

  • Ayoub Kaabi,Morocco

    Morocco

    Sublime during qualifying, Morocco amassed a maximum of 18 points—preserving their 100-per cent record—and enjoyed a goal difference of +19.

    This was despite some tricky opponents in Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Sudan.

    It’s not an entirely settled camp, with the likes of Hakim Ziyech falling out with head coach Vahid Halilhodzic, but the Atlas Lions have quality across the board...particularly once Youssef En-Nesyri is fit again.

  • Victor Osimhen - Nigeria, Super Eagles

    Nigeria

    Nigeria are looking like a completely different prospect following the departure of Gernot Rohr, with the shackles finally off this superbly talented side.

    Despite players of high calibre, the Super Eagles had previously struggled to convince, and had difficulties putting lesser teams away—Cape Verde and the Central African Republic being prominent recent examples.

    That's all changed at the Afcon, where they romped through the group stage with a 100-percent record and are looking like genuine contenders.

  • Sadio Mane Senegal 2021

    Senegal

    The Teranga Lions have maintained their high standards under Aliou Cisse, maintaining their momentum after encouraging showings at the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Nations Cup, even if they stuttered through the Afcon group stage.

    In Sadio Mane they obviously have a global superstar, while contributions from the likes of Ismaila Sarr, Famara Diedhiou and Habib Diallo have served as a reminder that Senegal have many ways of hurting opponents.

  • Islam Slimani - Algeria

    Algeria

    Ok, ok, ok...forget Algeria's miserable performance at the ongoing Afcon (as much as is possible).

    Africa’s reigning champions (for now) recently went three years without losing a match, have quality in abundance and won't lose -overnight - the qualities that made them such a fearsome prospect previously.

    They’re a unified group and, in Riyad Mahrez, boast one of Africa’s finest players.

    Admittedly, some of their key players are getting older, while their confidence looks shot to bits.

    However, if Djamel Belmadi can turn things around, and out of the muggy environment of Douala, we could see a return to the old Algeria.