The World Cup qualifiers climaxed at the group stage level on the African continent during the November international window and all is set for the playoffs.
It is only the ten group winners that have made it to the third and final qualifying round of the World Cup. A draw of five pairs will be made on December 18 to determine who represents Africa at the World’s greatest football showpiece in Qatar in 2022.
Quite a number of African powerhouses have navigated through and it surely will be mouthwatering fixtures over the two legs early in 2022. It is important to note that only five slots are reserved for Africa at the World Cup.
The Ten qualified teams
The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations champions topped group A with 14 points from six games. They won four, drew two and lost none, scoring 25 goals while they conceded just four.
The Eagles of Carthage who won the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations topped Group B on 13 points collected from four wins, one draw and a loss after six games. They managed 12 goals while they let in only two.
The three time AFCON winners finished as Group C table leaders on 13 points after six games. The Super Eagles registered four wins, one draw and a loss, netting nine goals and letting in three.
The five time winners of the Africa Cup edged Ivory Coast on matchday six 1-0 to leapfrog them and finish top of Group D on 15 points.
The Indomitable Lions won five games, drew none while they lost one and also garnered 12 goals and conceded just three.
The West African side who shared the same group with Uganda was the best in Group E with 16 points. The Eagles were unbeaten, they won five games and drew one.
In fact, Mali is the only team amongst all the 40 teams that were involved in the group stages that did not concede a single goal while they scored 11.
Africa’s most decorated nation with seven AFCON trophies, Egypt qualified with 14 points gathered from four wins and two draws given that they never lost a game. The Pharaoh managed 10 goals whereas four were put in their net.
Four time African champions Ghana went through as Group G winners but in controversial fashion. It needed them to win their last game against South Africa 1-0 thanks to Andrew Ayew’s extremely contentious penalty. The result has since been appealed by the Bafana Bafana.
It is that win in Accra that enabled the Black Stars to qualify for the playoffs on goals scored (seven) compared to South Africa’s six given that they finished level on 13 points and also goal difference (four).
Africa’s number one footballing nation, Senegal was amongst the first two teams to book their slots for the playoffs after just four games.
The Lions of Teranga accumulated 16 points in Group H after six games having won five games and drew the other. They scored 15 whilst conceding just four.
The 1976 AFCON winners were the first team to book their place in the playoffs just after four rounds of fixtures in Group I.
At end of it all, the Atlas Lions were the only team that won all their six group games and also managed 20 goals, conceding only once.
By matchday four, DRC were third placed on five points but remarkably won their last two games to turn things around and finish top of Group J on 11 points.
They won only three games, the least amongst all the teams at the group stages level, shared spoils on two occasions and lost the other.
It is worth noting that the 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament will for the first be happening in winter and it kicks off on November 21 with 32 participants.