There are a total of five slots for members in the CAF (Confederation of African Football) in this year’s Qatar World Cup. Three rounds determine which nations will make the cut, with only ten nations making it into the third and final stage.
The third round of qualifiers involves a home and away leg with drawn teams. The draw was seeded based on FIFA rankings. The ties will take place on the 25th and 29th March, to decide the eventual five nations representing Africa at this year’s World Cup.
AFCON finalists – repeat or revenge?
It’s round 2 between the 2022 AFCON (African Cup of Nations) finalists. After just missing out on an AFCON triumph after valiant efforts, Egypt will be hoping to gain revenge on Senegal and seal their World Cup spot.
Another loss to their African counterparts, Senegal, would be soul-crushing to Mo Salah and his Egyptian teammates.
Egypt started their 2022 AFCON with a narrow 1-0 loss to three-time AFCON champions Nigeria. Egypt quickly brushed themselves off, collecting 6 points from their next two group games. They then went on a tremendous run. An action-packed, tense run of games including two penalty shootout victories and an extra-time winner sealed Egypt’s spot in the final.
Egypt embraced the ‘underdog’ tag during the knockout stages. Egypt came up against Ivory Coast and some star names in the round of 16. European stars such as Eric Bailly, Pepe and Serge Aurier didn’t have what it takes to get past the rigid Egypt defensive set-up. Egypt came out on top in a penalty shoot-out. A typically composed Mo Salah sent his nation into the last eight with a well-struck penalty.
A second knockout fixture awaited Egyptian fans against an unbeaten Morocco side. The game headed into extra time for the second game in a row. Trezeguet saved Egypt from another penalty shootout with a 100th-minute winner.
After two knockout games in the space of four days, both heading past 90 mins, the Egyptians must’ve been suffering.
To no one’s surprise, the semifinal against Cameroon was another closely contested game. Both sides had chances but it was to be Egypt’s day yet again with another penalty shootout success, winning 3-1.
Egypt ran out of luck in the final, where they met a more creative, attacking side in the shape of Senegal. Captained by Liverpool starlet Sadio Mane, Senegal headed into the tie as warm favourites. The Senegalese struggled to break down the defensive structure of Egypt. Egypt set up in a defensive shape to cope with the Senegalese attacking threats, using Mo Salah as the outlet for their counter-attacks.
Egypt will be hoping to gain revenge over Senegal and what a great stage to do so with so much on the line. It would be a huge case of ‘so close yet so far’ if Egypt were to miss out on AFCON success as well as a spot in the World Cup, after coming so close on both occasions.
African nation to win for the first time in history?
No African nation has ever won the World Cup. In fact, the furthest any African nation has reached is the quarter finals. This has only occurred on three occasions, with the latest being Ghana in the 2010 World Cup. Ghana reached the quarter finals stage before being knocked out by Uruguay on penalties.
Many believe the greatest World Cup performance from an African country was Cameroon’s 1990 Italia World Cup campaign. The indomitable lions caused a huge shock in their first group game. Cameroon started their campaign by beating a prolific Argentinian side, the reigning World Cup champions. The result put the world on notice that Cameroon were not to be underestimated.
Cameroon edged past Colombia in the Round of 16. The game ended in a 0-0 draw within the first 90 mins, before goals galore in extra time resulting in a 2-1 win for Cameroon.
The next round tie was not short of drama either. Cameroon found themselves 2-1 up against a well-touted England side, one of the favourites for the 1990 World Cup. England dug deep and equalised at the 83rd-minute mark. Gary Lineker, the 1886 World Cup golden boot winner, won and converted the penalty to level things up. Lineker pulled it out again for the three lions, scoring the winning penalty in extra time to fire England into a World Cup semi final.
Outright odds are available here at Maverick! If you fancy a nation to cause a huge shock, the shortest odds for an African nation to win the cup are both Algeria and Ivory Coast. Both sides are available at odds of 126.00 to take home the trophy.