With just two matchdays remaining in the third and final round of African World Cup qualifiers, a clearer picture is emerging as to who will be boarding the plane to South Africa in June next year.
Here is a special report from Fifa.com that takes you through the groups to see who has missed out and who still has qualification in their sights.
Which teams are already through?
With four wins out of four, seven goals for and none against, Ghana’s progress in this third qualifying round has been flawless. With qualification secured, the Black Stars can now aim to build on their debut performance at Germany 2006.
Which teams are out?
Still winless after four games, Rwanda (Group C) and Sudan (Group D) are no longer in the running for the big event in South Africa. Despite faring somewhat better, Mali and Benin are in the same situation in Group D, as are Guinea and Malawi in Group E.
Group A: This is by far the most open of the five groups, with all four teams still in with a shout, although Cameroon are in the driving seat after recent back-to-back wins over second-placed Gabon. If they beat Togo and Morocco win in Gabon on the next match-day, the Indomitable Lions will join Ghana in the finals. For the other three teams, their fate is out of their hands.
Group B: Two solid performances against main rivals Nigeria (0-0 in Rades and 2-2 in Abuja) mean that Tunisia will qualify if they record a home win against Kenya in October and Nigeria fail to beat Mozambique. The Super Eagles will need to win their two final matches and hope other results go their way if they are to finish top.
Group C: Twenty-three years after their last Fifa World Cup appearance, Algeria has never been closer to a return to the world stage. With an unblemished home record (three wins out of three), the Fennecs need only to better Egypt’s result on the next match-day to wrap up qualification. Failing that, all will be decided when they face off against the Pharoahs in November.
Group D: With Ghana safely through, all that remains is for Mali, Benin and Sudan to battle it out for second place in the two outstanding rounds of fixtures.
Group E: Although qualification is not yet a mathematical certainty, with 12 points out of 12, Ivory Coast have done all the hard work. A single point from their two remaining games, in Malawi and at home to Guinea, will be enough to see the Elephants through, four years after their maiden Fifa World Cup.
What about second and third place?
This last round of qualifiers in Africa doubles as the qualification tournament for the 2010 African Cup of Nations. The top three teams in each group will book their passage to the finals in Angola in January, just a few months before the Fifa World Cup itself kicks off. Algeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast are already assured of a place, while the others still have everything to play for in the last two match days.
Aiteo Cup: Diri Hails Bayelsa Finalists
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, has lauded the feat of the state-owned football teams who reached the finals in the male and female categories of the 2021 Aiteo Cup.
Diri, while congratulating Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens for their outstanding performances, praised their indomitable spirit and resilience in surmounting the odds to qualify for the last stage of Nigeria’s oldest football competition.
Bayelsa United, who plays in the second tier Nigerian National League, on Friday defeated Premier League neighbours Rivers United 1-0 in the semi-finals, while Bayelsa Queens crushed perennial rivals Rivers Angels 5-0 to reach the women’s final.
The Governor, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Daniel Alabrah, on Saturday, described Bayelsa United as “giant killers” for defeating Premier League sides Enugu Rangers, Lobi Stars and Rivers United on their way to the final.
“The excellent run of Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens in this year’s Aiteo Cup is very heartwarming. Both teams reaching the finals is no mean feat. I congratulate them for making the state proud and setting a record of teams from the state playing in the finals of the male and female categories of the same competition for the first time,” Diri stated.
“By their outstanding performance, Bayelsa United and Bayelsa Queens have shown that the sporting revolution of our Prosperity Administration, which resulted in Bayelsa placing third in the last National Sports Festival in Edo State for the first time, is on course. I therefore urge them to complete their excellent run in the competition by bringing home the trophies.
D’Tigress To Play Mozambique In Afrobasket
Nigeria’s senior basketball team, D’Tigress, have been drawn to face Mozambique and a yet to qualify team in Group B of the 2021 Women’s Afrobasket, which holds from September 17 to 27 in Yaounde, Cameroon.
The draw was held in Yaounde last Saturday.
D’Tigress will be hoping to retain the title they won two years ago in Senegal, where they defeated the hosts in the final. A win in Cameroon will mean they have won the last three editions of the tournament.
The Nigerians will know their final group opponent when the FIBA Zone 6 qualifiers take place from August 16 to 22.
In Group A, hosts Cameroon will face Cape Verde and Kenya, while Senegal, the most successful team in the competition’s history with 11 first-place finishes, will slug it out with Egypt and Gabon in Group C.
Mali, Ivory Coast, and a team to be decided via wild card will fight for a slot in the next round in Group D.
Ebonyi Football Fans Celebrate Nwankwo Kanu At 45
Football fans in Ebonyi State yesterday, celebrated the birthday of formerNigerian international and Arsenal legend, Nwankwo Kanu.
The former Super Eagles skipper turned 45 yesterday.
Tidespoets source gathered that the 1993 FIFA U-17 world cup winner, fondly called “Papillo’’ by his fans had 86 caps for Nigeria.
The former Iwuanyanwu Nationale Football Club of Owerri’s talisman scored 13 goals for Nigeria in an enviable career that spanned from 1994 to 2010.
Kanu is a recipient of the Member of the Order of the Niger (MON), an Olympic Games football gold medalist and had illustrious club careers with Ajax Amsterdam of Holland, Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion of England.
Defunct Ebonyi Angels FC of Abakaliki Defender, James Onele, said that Kanu thrilled soccer fans across the world with sublime skills and trademark passes.
“Kanu won two African Footballer of the Year awards, an AFCON silver medal, four AFCON bronze medals among other honours.
“He was the first Nigerian, alongside Finidi George to win the prestigious UEFA champions league trophy with Ajax in 1995,” said Onele.
An Arsenal FC supporter, Ejike Okoro, said the club’s fans were proud of Kanu’s achievements during his time with the English Premier League side.
“Kanu played 197 times for Arsenal, scoring 44 goals and was part of the club’s invincible team that did not lose any match in the 2003-04 EPL season.
“He was instrumental in endearing Arsenal to millions of Nigerian soccer fans, despite later dropping to lowly-rated clubs such as Portsmouth and West Bromwich Albion,” Okoro said.
A banker and football enthusiast, Chief Barry Ogoh, told active footballers to emulate Papillo in investing adequately for the ‘rainy day’.
“Kanu, Augustine J.J. Okocha, among other ex-internationals are still financially stable as many ex-internationals have become bankrupt.
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