Last chance

Inas Mazhar , Tuesday 25 Jan 2022

African qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have reached their final destination, reports Inas Mazhar

2022 World Cup
2022 World Cup

Egypt will play Senegal in the final African qualifying round for the 2022 World Cup. 

The draw, held in Douala, Cameroon, on Saturday 22 January, also pitted Cameroon against Algeria, Ghana vs Nigeria, DR Congo and Morocco, and Mali opposing Tunisia.

The 10 teams that qualified were divided into two levels based on the official FIFA ranking, published in November 2021.  

The draw was conducted by CAF Competitions Director Samson Adamu, assisted by CAF legends El Hadji Diouf and Emmanuel Adebayor.

The five encounters, set for March, will see each team playing a home and away match, with the first leg match being held on the side whose name is first. So, Senegal will play its first match in Egypt. 

This is the last opportunity for the teams who want to make an appearance at the world’s most prestigious sports event. Only five African teams will qualify for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar which is being held in an Arab country for the first time ever.

All the teams, with the exception of DR Congo, are participating in the current Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), also being played in Cameroon. Algeria and Ghana exited from the group stages.

Nigeria’s Osasu Obayiuwana, African football expert, journalist and broadcaster, predicts that Senegal, Cameroon, Morocco, Mali and Nigeria will make it to Qatar.

“For the Egypt and Senegal game, it is Senegal. I’m sorry but Egypt is not in a good shape at all. [Liverpool star Mohamed] Salah cannot do it alone.

“The Cameroon and Algeria game is a tough one, I would go for Cameroon though. As for the DRC versus Morocco, I think it would be the North Africans and I expect them to be too strong for the DRC.

“I see Mali qualifying over Tunisia and I believe they have a serious chance of qualifying for the World Cup for the first time if they get a good result at home.

“For the Ghana-Nigeria game, it is Nigeria who will make it. But it might not be easy as I think because derby matches between these two teams can be tough. The fact that Ghana are in a very bad shape at the moment might not matter in March,” Obayiuwana told Al-Ahram Weekly.

Zambia’s Desmond Katongo, international journalist and media officer of the team, said he would pick Senegal to beat Egypt. “They are a side that have surged as a team from the past edition, still strong and have the players who are highly exposed playing in Europe, so they don’t have that fear factor of playing in global football like the World Cup. For Egypt, I see them trying to find their rhythm and that side keeps on improving. From the previous edition at home, they struggled and in this one their pick-up was not that convincing,” Katongo told the Weekly.

“The second game, I will go for Algeria [against Cameroon] because they return back home wounded after the first round. They have experience in their team and would want to prove their point that their main focus was to qualify to the World Cup.

“The Ghana-Nigeria game would definitely pick Nigeria. They are quite a young side that wants to win and have shown that appetite to succeed and win things. Evidence has been witnessed by beating Egypt. Will definitely go for them.

“Between Morocco and DR Congo, I pick Morocco. They have vast experience. Qualifying to the FIFA World Cup you have to have a highly top team of experience and they are the favourites.

“For the Tunisia and Mali game, will pick Mali and the reason is that we have seen from this AFCON how smaller teams have proved that there are no minors anymore in these times. Though Tunisia is doing well, I still believe Mali would pull it off,” Katonga said.

While Obayiuwana and Katongo say Senegal will beat Egypt, beIN reporter Amr Fahmi nominates Egypt for that seat. “I believe Egypt will surprise Senegal. It will be an interesting head-to-head clash for Liverpool teammates Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, but Egypt has more tactical organisation than Senegal and that can prove to be key for qualification,” Fahmi told the Weekly.

“Algeria will find it hard against Cameroon who haven’t lost at home in years. The Algerians may suffer from a crisis of confidence after their early exit from the Africa Cup of Nations. I expect Cameroon to go through given the deadly form of striker Vincent Aboubakar.

“Morocco should have no problems with DR Congo, as well as Nigeria who are far better from their opponents Ghana at the moment. Tunisia against Mali is an even game. Maybe the Carthage Eagles have more experience but Mali as well have the hunger to qualify for their first ever FIFA World Cup.”

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