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World Cup qualifying: Predicting Africa’s five for Qatar

4:58 AM IST 29/03/22
Nigeria, Super Eagles
Ahead of Tuesday’s second-leg playoffs, Ed Dove predicts Africa’s five qualifiers

  • Mohamed Salah & Trezeguet of Egypt celebrate vs Senegal

    Africa’s playoffs

    We already know 20 of the 32 teams set to compete at the 2022 World Cup, and on Tuesday, Africa’s five representatives will be decided with the conclusion of the two-legged Third Round.

    The Caf qualifying campaign—which began way back in September 2019—reaches its conclusion this week with the second half of five tantalising playoff bouts.

    Looking ahead to Tuesday’s showdowns, Ed Dove predicts which five sides he’s anticipating will progress to Qatar from the continent.

  • Sadio Mane Senegal 2022

    Senegal

    Egypt may have the first leg advantage after they defeated Senegal 1-0 in Cairo on Friday, but Saliou Ciss’s early own goal was about as good as it got for the Pharaohs, who showed precious little on the day.

    Senegal were having a serious off day, lacking the tempo and rhythm they demonstrated during their victorious Africa Cup of Nations Cup campaign, but Egypt weren’t able to truly punish them…and I think they may regret it.

    The Teranga Lions, playing their first match on home soil since becoming African champions, will surely be pumped up for the occasion at the Diamniadio Olympic Stadium, and their greater firepower could ensure Sadio Mane’s boys eliminate Mohamed Salah’s side from the World Cup running.

  • Tarik Tissoudali of Morocco

    Morocco

    Both Morocco and the Democratic Republic of Congo showed their quality—and their weaknesses—in the first leg, in what was, overall, a frustrating display for both sides.

    The Leopards weren’t able to truly make the most of home advantage—and conceded an away goal—whereas the Atlas Lions weren’t able to impose themselves consistently on a weaker opponent.

    Nonetheless, Tarik Tissoudali’s 76th-minute equaliser gives them the away goal…and the edge, heading into the home leg.

  • Mali Tunisia

    Tunisia

    One of only two sides to have picked up an away victory in the first leg of their playoff, Tunisia’s victory in Bamako leaves them as overwhelming favourites to advance.

    The Carthage Eagles weren’t particularly impressive going forward at the Stade du 26 Mars, but Moussa Sissako’s moments of madness—his own goal and then his sending off—have given the North Africans an edge they’re unlikely to lose.

  • Riyad Mahrez of Manchester City and Algeria.

    Algeria

    Arguably in an even stronger position than Tunisia are Algeria, whose fearsome home record at Blida gives them even more insulation as they look to return to the World Cup.

    A return to Douala—and the site of their disastrous Nations Cup title defence—was an opportunity to right recent wrongs in the first leg, and Islam Slimani’s 40th international goal was enough to give Algeria a commanding advantage.

    It would take a major upturn from Cameroon for them to overturn a tie that surely slipped away from them at the Stade Japoma.

  • Victor Osimhen, Nigeria

    Nigeria

    The Super Eagles remain favourites (just) against Ghana, even though it feels like they’re in a weaker position than they were before the first leg.

    They may have avoided a defeat in the fortress of the Baba Yara Stadium, but the Black Stars were much improved than they had been during their disastrous Afcon campaign, and can take encouragement…even though they remain toothless.

    If Ghana can nab an away goal in Abuja then this tie could turn very quickly against Nigeria, but they remain in pole position…just.