Senegal and Morocco have become the first nations to make it to the playoffs qualification stage following the climax of matchday four of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers on the African continent.
The two giants registered wins on Tuesday, October 12, and comfortably lead their respective groups with nothing promising to change despite the fact that there is still matchday five and six to play. There were also victories for Algeria, Ghana, South Africa and Togo on the day.
Algeria humbled Niger 4-0 away from home to complete a 10-1 aggregate doubleheader riot on the Menas. Riyad Mahrez, Aissa Mandi, Ismael Bennacer and Baghdad Bounedjah scored for the Desert Warriors.
The 2019 Africa Cup of Nations champions are level on 10 points with Burkina Faso but lead proceedings in the group with a superior goal difference.
Niger and Djibouti are on three points and zero respectively and will only be playing for pride in the remaining two fixtures with the race for who advances to the next stage left for Algeria and Burkina Faso.
Ethiopia’s Getaneh Kebede’s own goal which gave a 1-0 scoreline ensured that South Africa completed a double over the Walia Ibex having defeated them 3-1 in the first leg.
Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey was once again on target to score the only goal of the game as Ghana edged Zimbabwe 1-0. They had earlier defeated the same opponent with a 3-1 scoreline.
Bafana Bafana of South Africa are top of the group with 10 points after matchday four, followed by the Black Stars of Ghana-who are with nine, the two will go toe to toe until one qualifies to the next stage.
Wubetu Abate’s Ethiopian team are third with three points while the Warriors of Zimbabwe are rock-bottom with just a single point.
Senegal travelled to Namibia and picked up a 3-1 win to register a 7-2 aggregate scoreline. Famara Diedhiou bagged a hattrick for Africa’s number one ranked footballing nation while Peter Shalulile netted the consolation goal for the hosts.
It was the perfect result needed for the Lions of Teranga from Senegal to confirm their place in the next qualification stage, the playoffs.
In the other group game played on the same day, Togo defeated Congo 2-1 courtesy of Euloge Placca Fessou and Kevin Denkey strikes whilst Brazzaville’s goal was scored by Guy Kamboleke. The two had earlier shared spoils in a one-all draw played on Saturday, October 9.
Aliou Cisse’s boys qualified from the group as leaders after gathering the maximum 12 points, Togo and Namibia who are tied on four points follow though the Sparrowhawks from Togo occupy second place on a better goal difference.
The Red Devils of Congo are rock-bottom on two points. None of the Brazzaville, Namibia or even Togo can catch Senegal in this race.
After the postponement of the game between Guinea and Morocco on matchday two, due to a coup d’etat that witnessed the ousting of president Alpha Conde in Conakry, the fixture was finally played.
As expected, the 1976 AFCON champions Morocco thrashed Conakry 4-1 through goals from Selim Amallah-who scored a brace, Ayoub El Kaabi and Sofiane Boufal whereas the National Elephants of Guinea got their consolation from Mamadou Kane.
The victory meant that Morocco became the second team to book a slot in the next qualification stage after Senegal.
The Atlas Lions are top of the standings on 12 points, a tally that can not be matched by any other team in the group, Guinea Bissau are second on four while Guinea Conakry and Sudan are third and fourth on three points and one respectively.
Matchday five and six will be played in the November international window to complete the first qualification group stage round. We shall also establish the other eight teams to join Senegal and Morocco.
When it is all said and done, the leading teams in the ten respective groups will tussle it out in a two-legged playoff aimed at five nations that will play in the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup on Africa’s behalf.