CAF World Cup qualifying: What to watch as African teams try to reach Qatar 2022

It is time for the intense AFCON enterprise to start.

It is laborious to fathom, however this time subsequent 12 months, we can be gearing up for FIFA World Cup 2022. Plans and preparations have begun, and in Africa, one of many hardest areas to earn a spot from issues are effectively on their approach.

The African continent boasts a number of the finest gamers on the earth, Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly, Riyad Mahrez, Achraf Hakimi, Thomas Partey, Victor Osimhen, and so they’re all taking part in their components. You get the purpose, there’s expertise in abundance on the continent

CAF qualifying, the story thus far

Senegal and Morocco have already received their teams, H and I respectively, and can head to the third and closing spherical, however a number of the remainder of these teams are TIGHT. Algeria and Burkina Faso are tied in Group A with 10 factors. Tunisia lead Group B with 10 factors, Equatorial Guinea path them with 7 factors. Nigeria lead Group C with 9 factors, Cape Verde proper behind with 7 factors. Group D sees giants Ivory Coast and Cameroon combating for the final qualification spot. Ivory Coast has 10 factors and Cameroon are proper behind with 9. Over in Group E, Mali paved the way with 10 factors whereas Uganda usually are not far behind with 8 factors. In Group F, Egypt paved the way with 10 factors, Libya have 6 and Gabon have a slim likelihood, with 4 factors. Group G has South Africa with 10 factors and Ghana with 9. The final group nonetheless up for grabs, Group J, may be very chaotic. All 4 groups have a shot, Tanzania and Benin each have 7 factors, DR Congo has 5 factors and Madagascar has 3 factors.

That’s lots of info to course of however you get the purpose, proper? When 5 groups qualify from a chaotic and infrequently unserious footballing haven, there’s certain to be drama, and that is earlier than we even get to the ultimate spherical of qualification the place the group winners are pitted in opposition to one another.

CAF matches to observe

(All occasions U.S./japanese)

Thursday, November 11
Tanzania vs DR Congo, 8 a.m. (ESPN+)
South Africa vs Zimbabwe, 8 a.m. (ESPN+)

Saturday, November 13
Liberia vs Nigeria, 11 a.m.  (ESPN+)

Sunday, November 14
DR Congo vs Benin, 8 a.m. (ESPN+)
Mali vs Uganda, 11 a.m. (ESPN+)
Ghana vs South Africa, 2 p.m. (ESPN+)

Tuesday, November 16
Nigeria vs Cape Verde, 11 a.m. (ESPN+)
Cameroon vs Ivory Coast, 2 p.m. (ESPN+)

(Completely biased however truthful) Groups and gamers to observe

The African continent is blessed with some superb expertise, it all the time has been however now the world’s finest competitions are suffering from these gamers. Arguably one of the best participant on the earth, Mo Salah performs for Egypt. Riyad Mahrez and Sadio Mane trigger ruckus within the Premier League, whereas Osihmen is fulfilling his potential in Serie A and his anchor on the again is Kalidou Koulibaly. Algeria are the crew to observe. The present African champions boast a effectively balanced crew filled with stars. Morocco and Tunisia have an thrilling crop of expertise, as do Senegal, who’ve by no means received an African Championship. 

Ghana and South Africa have been powerhouses all through the years and are slowly discovering themselves once more. Mali are coming again to prominence in addition to Cameroon. You even have groups who’re making names for themselves, reminiscent of Tanzania, Benin, DR Congo and Zambia; who’ve skills reminiscent of Patson Daka, Enock Mwepu and Trend Sakala.

Sure, I selfishly left Nigeria for final. Nigeria are going via a golden technology. There’s a bunch of unreal expertise that don’t even sniff the crew, gamers reminiscent of David Okereke, Henry Onyekuru, Terem Moffi and Umar Sadiq. The query stays, can Nigeria get out of its personal approach? Calling up gamers like Odion Ighalo, Ahmed Musa, leaves many puzzled. Can they discover midfield choices and stability, defensive stability and an thrilling model of soccer? They’re simply probably the greatest groups on the continent, on paper, however when it comes collectively? It typically leaves a lot to be desired

What’s subsequent?

For a few of these international locations, the occasion ends subsequent week and so they’ll have one other 4 years to attend for an additional likelihood to qualify for the World Cup, for the others, the chaos is nearly to start. As soon as the Group winners are finalized, the ten group winners can be drawn into 5 head-to-head, two-legged ties to earn one of many 5 locations on the World Cup. The matches can be performed in March 2022. Earlier than then, groups can get revenge on one another throughout AFCON 2021; which takes place Jan. 9 -Feb. 6.

The continent of Africa is all the time due some chaos, some unseriousness, some banter, wild haircuts, however total, a good time. The ultimate two matches of Spherical 2 for World Cup qualifiers are simply one other installment of the greatness that’s African soccer. | CAF World Cup qualifying: What to observe as African groups attempt to attain Qatar 2022


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