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Africa News of Friday, 19 November 2021

Source: goal.com

Ranking Africa’s 10 World Cup hopefuls

Algerian national team are seeded for the playoffs, they are the current AFCON champions Algerian national team are seeded for the playoffs, they are the current AFCON champions

GOAL ranks the 10 African sides still standing in the World Cup qualifying campaign.

The teams will be paired after a draw slated for December 2021 following which they will play a two-legged tie in March 2022 to determine who makes it to 2022 Qatar World Cup later next year.

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.

There are some doubts about whether the Leopards will even progress, with their (mis)use of substitutes in their final qualifier prompting an investigation by Caf.

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.


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 could give them the impetus they need to go on and enjoy a strong Nations Cup on home soil, if they can overcome the pressure of expectation.

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

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.

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.


Ghana

Defeated away in South Africa, and held by Ethiopia, but Ghana have enjoyed genuine improvement over the last year.

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.

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

Nigeria

They’re a settled setup under Gernot Rohr, but there’s still an enduring sense that Nigeria are far less than the sum of their parts.

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

If they can settle on personnel and a strategy that works—starting Odion Ighalo may not be the answer—then it could all click, but don’t hold your breath.

Tunisia

Hardly glittering during qualification, 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.

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 are looking remarkably complete.


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.

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.

Algeria

Africa’s reigning champions are currently enjoying a 33-game undefeated streak, having now gone three years without losing a match.

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

Admittedly, some of their key players are getting older, while there was a certain vulnerability clear in that 2-2 draw with Burkina Faso in their final qualifier, but they remain the team to beat.