The first leg of the World Cup Playoff tie for African teams bidding to play their part in Qatar 2022 is only hours away. With a star-studded pairing of African heavyweights, a lot is expected to unravel over the next week.
Africa has continuously failed to make their mark on the biggest stage possible, irrespective of the continent boasting centuries after centuries of some of the best pair of legs across the world. While that has continued to be a worry, it is left to be seen if the jinx could be broken come later this year when the tournament makes a loud return.
Other than that, breaking the jinx is going to be a function of the quality the continent markets come November.
The Playoff pairings done during the 33rd Edition of the African Nations Cup ostensibly sieved the very best in the offer, with 8 of the 10 countries in the Continent’s top 10, with only an exception of Ghana and DR Congo who are placed 11th and 12th respectively in FIFA’s latest rankings of 10 February 2022.
DR Congo will test for size the Moroccan team eliminated by Egypt in the Quarter Finals of the African Nations Cup which held in Cameroon, whereas Mali will lock horns with another North African team, the Carthage Eagles that soared above the Super Eagles of Nigeria, following a 1 nil win in their Round of 16 clashes in the 33rd Edition of the most revelled continental showpiece.
AFCON host, Cameroon will look forward to a clash with the dethroned African champions, Algeria and will hope their opponent’s tumultuous situation long continues after their early exit from the Nations cup. The Carlos Queiroz led Pharaohs of Egypt will seek vendetta against the reigning African Champions, Senegal, and would throw everything in their arsenal at the Aliou Cisse led Lions of Teranga.
The AFCON finals were awash by the fact that the Liverpool duo of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane frayed for the most coveted continental trophy, and the latter took strangle of the same, and no less would be the case again, as both bids to be the final jigsaw that could aid their teams over the line.
At the Baba Yara Stadium, Kumasi, the Black Stars of Ghana led by Coach Otto Addo will be enmeshed in an eternal rivalry with their West African counterparts, the Super Eagles of Nigeria. Every sort of game between them echoes so much pride, history and sentiments, and undoubtedly, this can only guarantee one nation a passage to the Mundial slated for Qatar from 21st November 2022 to 18th December 2022.
The first leg of these ties is set for the 25th of March being Friday, whereas the reverse fixtures take the centre stage four days later and only five countries will make it from Africa.
So, which five could muster much more courage and doggedness than their foes to be in Qatar?
Meanwhile, Japan & Saudi Arabia are the latest teams to have booked their place in Qatar – here is the full list of nations that have qualified.