Qatar is hosting the next FIFA World Cup as France will try to retain their crown after winning the competition for the 2nd time in their history back in 2018, in Russia as they beat Croatia 4-2 in the final.

The French had won the World Cup once before in 1998 led by Zinedine Zidane, who many consider being France’s greatest ever player. The FIFA World Cup has been won by 8 nations so far with Brazil leading the way. Brazil has 5 championships, Germany and Italy have 4 each, Argentina, France, and Uruguay have 2 each, whereas England and Spain have 1 each to complete the list.

The World Cup has only been won by countries from South America and Europe. Africa will be keen on changing that. African nations have never made it to the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup. Only 3 of them have managed to make it to the quarterfinals – Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010, who were a penalty away against Uruguay from securing a spot in the semi-finals. However, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has managed to have the 3rd highest representation at the FIFA World Cup with 44 teams having qualified since its inception. Only South America (CONMEBOL) and Europe (UEFA) have had more representation with 85 and 245 teams, respectively.

Although 44 teams have qualified for the FIFA World Cup from Africa, only 13 countries have been able to qualify so far – South Africa (hosted the World Cup in 2010 so automatic qualification), Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Nigeria, Congo DR, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia. Cameroon has featured the most among African nations with 7 appearances so far followed by Nigeria with 6, and Morocco and Tunisia with 5 each.

Africa has 5 spots up for grabs in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. In 2018, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, and Senegal were the teams to qualify for the biggest international football competition, in Russia.

Here are the teams vying for a place in Qatar.

Africa World Cup Qualifiers (2)

(Photo: FIFA)

Group A – Algeria, Burkina Faso, Niger, Djibouti

Algeria will be hot favourites to qualify for the FIFA World Cup and top this group, given that they won the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. The other 3 teams have never qualified for the World Cup so this should be a breeze for “Les Fennecs”. Burkina Faso however, had come close to qualification back in 2014 but were denied qualification by, funnily enough, Algeria.

(Photo: O2379cz, CC BY-SA 4.0)

With a squad filled with talent led by Manchester City winger, Riyad Mahrez, Algeria looks like a real force to reckon with. They also have defender Ramy Bensebaini from Borussia Monchengladbach, Leicester City striker Islam Slimani and midfielder Ismael Bennacer from AC Milan, who are all talented.

Our pick: Algeria

Group B – Tunisia, Zambia, Mauritiana, Equatorial Guinea

This is going to be quite a tricky group, but Tunisia would be slight favourites to qualify from Group B. Zambia are expected to give the Tunisians a tough fight for securing the top spot in this group. Tunisia, however, thrives when it comes to World Cup competitions. They have managed to qualify for 5 World Cups and know how to make it through the qualifiers.

So, the pick must be Tunisia with Zambia potentially, finishing just behind them and unfortunately, missing out on their World Cup qualification dreams once again. However, games and results are never made on paper so it would be remarkably interesting if Zambia were to make it through, allowing a new team to earn a World Cup spot.

Our pick: Tunisia

Group C – Nigeria, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Liberia

Nigeria will be overwhelming favourites in Group C. They are 6-time FIFA World Cup qualifiers, looking to make it 7 and will be one of those favourites to make the 5 that will travel to Qatar in 2022. The Super Eagles – led by Ahmed Musa, the Nigerians have a terrifying line-up with the young star, Victor Osimhen alongside the captain himself. They also have Premier League players Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi from Leicester City, along with Everton midfielder, Alex Iwobi.

Given the strong attacking side that the Nigerians can field, questions have been raised on the defence. Nevertheless, they are still a strong unit and should sail through the group and make it to the two-legged qualifiers.

Our pick: Nigeria

Nigeria Football

Group D – Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Malawi

It is a pity that two of Africa’s powerhouses have been pitted against each other in the African qualifiers. Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire are both outstanding footballing nations and proud ones. Cote d’Ivoire will be looking to qualify for its 4th FIFA World Cup whereas Cameroon will try to stay ahead of Nigeria by qualifying for a record 8th World Cup. Only one can reign supreme and qualify for the top 10.

Cote d’Ivoire has been the team to watch so far and Cameroon will find it challenging against the Elephants. Mozambique and Malawi by no means are pushovers either but expect the Cameroon-Cote d’Ivoire result to be the decider of whose World Cup hopes will stay alive and who misses out on a dream come true.

Our pick: Cote d’Ivoire

Group E – Mali, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda

With all due respect to all 4 of the teams in Group E, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire would have been licking their lips to have been in this group rather than face off against each other. Group E features teams that have never featured in the World Cup finals. Mali seems to be the best team among the four going in, but Uganda and Kenya can spring a surprise or two as well.

Rwanda will consider themselves fortunate as they can well and truly compete in this group and potentially make things interesting. Games in this group can shatter the hopes of at least 2 nations and the best chance in their history of making the World Cup.

Our pick: Mali

Group F – Egypt, Gabon, Libya, Angola

This could be known as the Group of Death. Egypt has been one of the best and most consistent teams in Africa for over a decade now and with Mohamed Salah leading them, they will be tipped to qualify for the World Cup once again after doing so in 2018. Even though they had a poor showing in the group stages in Russia losing all three of their games, they are still a strong outfit.

The most exciting game of the group will feature two of the Premier League’s superstars as Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be spearheading Gabon against Egypt’s Liverpool star, Mo Salah! This could be the potential decider for who makes it through to the final 10 in Africa’s World Cup qualifiers. Angola is a good team as well and must not be ignored as they have a talented young squad that did well in the FIFA U-17 World Cup but it might be too early for them to pose any threat to the mighty Egyptians or Gabonese. Libya has been highly inconsistent so far but can beat anyone on a given day.

Our pick: Egypt

Group G – Ghana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia

Group G is a competitive group, but Ghana should emerge as the winners. The Ghanaians have the legend, Abedi Ayew’s sons representing them. Andre Ayew captains the Black Stars and the attack is led by his younger brother, Crystal Palace’s Jordan Ayew who was shortlisted for Ghana’s Player of the Year award and is expected to be in the running for the Premier League’s Golden Boot.

South Africa is more than a handful and Zimbabwe will be keen on upsetting their neighbours as well. Ethiopia is far from pushovers so this group may end up being filled with some drama until the last minute. Ghana, however, qualified for 3 consecutive World Cups from 2006 till 2014 where they made the quarterfinals, led by their all-time leading goal scorer, and most capped player, Asamoah Gyan. They missed out in 2018 and will be determined to make things right and secure their tickets to Qatar in 2022.

Our pick: Ghana

Group H – Senegal, Congo, Namibia, Togo

Senegal is the highest-ranked African nation in world football. They are led by the one and only, Sadio Mane, the winner of the African Player of the Year award for 2019/20. Senegal is the best team in Africa on paper and will be hard to beat. Togo featured in the 2006 World Cup but do not seem to pose any threat to the Lions of Teranga.

They are a balanced outfit and will certainly breeze through the groups. At this moment, it seems like any team that can avoid defeat against Senegal has done a good job. They have Chelsea’s new #1 Edouard Mendy as their goalkeeper. Napoli defender, Kalidou Koulibaly captains the side and they also have players like Idrissa Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyate and the extremely talented young right-winger, Ismaila Sarr. This Senegal team could have hopes of even making a deep run in the World Cup finals in Qatar. Keep your eyes on the Lions.

Our pick: Senegal

Senegal Players Dancing

(Photo: Getty Images)

Group I – Morocco, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan

This is the group with two heavyweights in Morocco and Guinea. Both teams have some of the top talents playing at the highest level in Europe so it could well end up being the decider on which team has to anxiously wait four more years to try and feature in the FIFA World Cup. The Moroccans are known to be particularly good in the qualifiers, hence, have featured in 5 World Cups. Guinea, on the other hand, has never played in the world’s biggest football tournament.

Morocco has stars like Chelsea midfielder Hakim Ziyech, starlet Inter Milan full-back Achraf Hakimi and Sevilla goalkeeper Yassine Bounou. Morocco also has players like Sofyan Amrabat, Youssef En-Nesyri, Noussair Mazraoui, Youssef El-Arabi, Wolves defender Roman Saiss, Nordin Amrabat, Omar El Kaddouri, Sofian Boufal, Adel Taarabt and many others who are top quality players. Guinea is led by Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita, but the team still lacks big names when compared to Morocco. This may not be the Group of Death, but it is an exciting group, nonetheless.

Our pick: Morocco

Group J – Congo DR, Benin, Madagascar, Tanzania

The most open group on paper, Group J is guaranteed to give us some thrills. The group features two teams – Benin and Madagascar – that made it to the Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinals, surprisingly. Congo DR remains the strongest of all the four teams in this group.

Congo DR has some top players like Arthur Masuaku, Fabrice N’Sakala, Marcel Tisserand, Christian Luyindama, Chancel Mdemba. Over the last year, Yannick Bolasie, Cedric Bakambu and Axel Disasi have also featured for the side. Tanzania will be up against all odds to register a win in this group.

Our pick: Congo DR


FIFA WC 2022

(Photo: FIFA)

To round up the 10 groups, here are our picks of the teams that will make the third and final round of Africa’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers to fight for the 5 coveted spots in the World Cup finals.

A – Algeria
B – Tunisia
C – Nigeria
D – Cote d’Ivoire
E – Mali
F – Egypt
G – Ghana
H – Senegal
I – Morocco
J – Congo DR

Who do you think will come out on top in Africa’s race for the World Cup?