Road to Russia 2018: Big weekend awaits African WC bidders

October 3, 2017
Source: thebftonline l Ghana
Road to Russia 2018:  Big weekend awaits African WC bidders

 

Three African countries could secure early tickets to Russia 2018, with wins in this weekend’s set of World Cup qualifiers. In all, the continent will be represented by five teams at the world’s biggest sporting competition to held next summer in Russia. Only group winners will progress.

Nigeria in Group B, Egypt in Group E and Tunisia in Group A could all but secure qualifications with victories in this weekend’s matches, with an extra game to spare. Things are still pretty tight in the other two groups, and it looks like it will go down to the final round of group games to determine who joins the train to Russia 2018. 

A group-by-group preview of this week’s African World Cup qualifiers and analysis of each country’s chances is below;

GROUP A

Pos.

 

TEAM

MP

WON

DRAWN

LOST

GF

GA

PTS

1

 

Tunisia

 

4

3

1

0

7

3

10

2

 

DR Congo

 

4

2

1

1

9

5

7

3

 

Guinea

 

4

1

0

3

4

7

3

4

 

Libya

 

4

1

0

3

3

8

3

 

Guinea and Libya, both tied on 3 points each, are automatically out of the qualifiers. Tunisia is in pole position to win Group A and progress to the competition proper in Russia. They would take a giant step towards that if they can win three maximum points this weekend away to Guinea in Conakry on Saturday.

Any result worse than a draw will leave the group open for second placed team, DR Congo with a chance to reach their first ever World Cup tournament.

The Congolese are also playing away to Libya on Saturday. If they lose and Tunisia wins, then they are automatically out of contention, while a victory will take the group down to the wire in November this year to determine the group winner.

 

 

 

 

GROUP B

POS

 

TEAM

MP

WON

DRAWN

LOST

GF

GA

PTS

1

 

Nigeria

 

4

3

1

0

10

3

10

2

 

Zambia

 

4

2

1

1

6

4

7

3

 

Cameroon

 

4

0

3

1

3

7

3

4

 

Algeria

 

4

0

1

3

3

8

1

 

In Group B, Nigeria could become the first the African country to book a ticket to Russia with a win at home against second placed side Zambia on Saturday.

The Super Eagles are top of the standings with 10 points, three more than their Saturday’s opponents.

On the other hand, Zambia could force the group into the final round of games next month to decide the group winner if they can pull up an upset against the group leaders.  

African champions, Cameroon remains one of the biggest disappointments, having only gathered four points from a possible 16 after four games, and already out of contention for a place in next year’s World Cup finals.

Elsewhere, things are even murkier for Algeria, who have collected only a point from four games. Saturday’s game against Cameroon in Yaoundé will be a formality as both are without any chance of qualifying.  Together, the two will be one of the most talented teams not to make it to the World Cup in recent times.

Group C

POS

 

TEAM

MP

WON

DRAWN

LOST

GF

GA

PTS

1

 

Cote d'Ivoire

 

4

2

1

1

7

3

7

2

 

Morocco

 

4

1

3

0

6

0

6

3

 

Gabon

 

4

1

2

1

2

4

5

4

 

Mali

 

4

0

2

2

1

9

2

 

This is probably the toughest group in the African qualifiers, with three of the four countries still in contention to top the group. From first placed Ivory Coast to Morocco and Gabon in second and third, none of the teams can boost of being in control of Group C.

However, the Elephants of Ivory Coast who lead the group with seven points after four games are still hot favourites to reach their fourth consecutive World Cup if they can get the results against Mali on Friday in Bamako, which will give them an advantage going to the final round of matches in November.

Mali, however, could throw a spanner in the works by taking a point, or all three against the Elephants who have so far not looked convincing.

The other group game involving Morocco and Gabon will be held in Casablanca on Saturday, and a win for either side, will boost their chances of making it to Russia. If any of them win, and leaders Ivory Coast loses to Mali, that team automatically takes the top spot going into final qualifiers next mouth.

GROUP D

POS

 

TEAM

MP

WON

DRAWN

LOST

GF

GA

PTS

1

 

Burkina Faso

 

4

1

3

0

5

3

6

2

 

Cape Verde

 

4

2

0

2

4

6

6

3

 

Senegal

 

4

1

2

1

5

4

5

4

 

South Africa

 

4

1

1

2

5

6

4

 

The only group that is still as open as it begun is Group B, with all four teams still in the race to reach Russia. Burkina Faso tops the table but only on goal difference ahead of Cape Verde. Both countries are tied on six points after four games, while Senegal, with five points in third place, is separated from South Africa on the bottom by just one point.

There are even more dynamics to this group. The game played between South Africa and Senegal in November last year has been ordered to be replayed by FIFA, following the imposition of a lifetime ban on Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey, who was accused of deliberate manipulation of results.

The ruling adds a different dimension to the group, meaning that if Senegal, who lost the initial game, are able to win the replay, will take their tally to eight points, which will take them to the summit and in pole position to qualify ahead of current joint leaders Burkina Faso and Cape Verde.

However, things in the group will remain the same, if South Africa wins or the game ends in a draw.

 

GROUP E

Pos.

Teams

 MP

GF

GA

Pts

1

 

Egypt

4

1

5

9

2

 

Uganda

4

1

2

7

3

 

Ghana

4

1

6

5

4

 

Congo

4

3

3

1

 

Group leader Egypt should move close to qualification on Sunday when they host Congo who are bottom of the table after four games. A win for the North Africans against Congo Brazzaville could qualify them, although that will be dependent on results from the other game involving Uganda and Ghana.

The modalities are that if Ghana beat Uganda and Egypt also beat Congo, then the Pharaohs will qualify. However, if Uganda beats Ghana and regardless of whether Egypt wins or not, the battle will down to the final round of group games in November to decide whether Uganda or Egypt qualifies to Russia.

The only way Ghana can still make it is to win against Uganda in Kampala and hope for Congo to earn at least a point from the Egyptians, which will make the Ghana versus Egypt game next month the decisive encounter.

However, it is highly unlikely that Egypt would drop points at home against Congo, knowing that a win will all but seal their return to the World Cup since 1990.