The first stage of the African World Cup 2022 qualifiers was completed on Tuesday, with 10 securing their spots in the play-offs.
Algeria, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Tunisia were the latest African sides to book their place in the play-offs, bringing them one step closer to playing in Qatar next year. They join six other African countries that have already reached this stage of qualification: Mali (Group E), Egypt (Group F), Ghana (Group G), Senegal (Group H), Morocco (Group I), and DR Congo (Group J).
All 10 teams are put into two pots, based on their world rankings and then drawn together for a two-legged game. The five winners of the round will progress to the World Cup next winter.
The final round of qualification isn’t due to be played until March 2022, after the Africa Cup of Nations in January 2022.
On Tuesday, already-qualified Egypt rounded off their campaign with a 2-1 win against Gabon in Alexandria to finish unbeaten in Group F.
Al Ahly midfielder Mohamed Magdy put the Pharaohs ahead from the penalty spot in the fourth minute after Ahmed Yasser Rayyan was clipped by Denis Bouanga.
Clermont forward Jim Allevinah scrambled in a cross to equalise nine minutes after the restart but Gabon defender Johann Obiang deflected a through ball past his own keeper with 15 minutes remaining, and his own goal proved to be the winner.
The visitors finished with 10 men as Bouanga was sent off late on for a kick out at Mohamed Hamdy – his second bookable offence – giving Carlos Quieroz’s Egypt a fourth win in six matches. Egypt collected 14 points from four wins and two draws.
Egypt were placed in the second classification pot in the draw, along with Mali, Ghana, DR Congo, and Cameroon. The other five teams, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, and Senegal, qualified to the final stage in the first classification pot thanks to superior FIFA ranking.
The date of the African World Cup play-off draw has not officially been determined yet, but several press reports indicated that the draw will be held in conjunction with the 2021 Arab Cup final, on 18 December.