Sunday saw the conclusion of yet another scintillating round of CAF World Cup Qualifiers. The qualifiers, now down to the final stage, was hotter than ever and, as always, their were several talking points from those fixtures played at the weekend.
Indeed, no other spectacle brings out the best in African football as the World Cup Qualifiers. Africa’s best was on show at the weekend, with several standout performers.
Here, we at Accumulator Tips take a look at some of the many talking points from the weekend’s qualifiers.
1. Nigeria seal their World Cup berth
The Super Eagles became the first African nation to ensure of its place in Russia next year. The West Africans needed a win against Zambia to secure qualification, and playing in their own backyard, they didn’t disappoint.
The game against the Chipolopolo was a hotly contested one, as the Zambians were determined not to leave Uyo empty-handed. But a late Alex Iwobi strike effectively killed their 2018 World Cup dreams.
The group’s other game between Cameroon and Algeria in Yaoundé ended a 2-0 win to the hosts. The result was irrelevant, though, as both had been eliminated prior to their showdown on Saturday.
Algeria, for all their superstars, have had a torrid, torrid qualifying campaign, losing four times and failing to get win in their five qualifiers. The weekend’s result confirmed the Desert Foxes will finish bottom of Group B, a group they were favourites to win.
2. Group D set to go the distance
Group D has been a proper ‘Group of Death’ thus far, and following the weekend’s results, it’s set to go down to the wire.
South Africa hopes of qualifying were dealt a massive blow last time out, where they lost back-to-back games against Cape Verde, but a 3-1 win over Burkina Faso in Johannesburg, has given them a huge lift. The same can be said for Senegal whose victory over Cape Verde saw them leapfrog the Stallions into first place.
The Senegalese have their destinies in their hands as a win in either of their remaining two games against the South Africans would see them qualify. Bafana Bafana themselves can also ensure qualification with a win in both games against Senegal. Burkina Faso and Cape Verde, on the other hand, can only ensure they win their one remaining fixture, and hope South Africa and Senegal both miss out on qualification somehow.
3. DR Congo, Ivory Coast & Morocco keep World Cup dream alive
DR Congo, Ivory Coast and Morocco are three nations who go into the final group fixture with a chance of still making it to the finals in Russia.
DR Congo kept the chase on Tunisia in Group A with a 2-1 win away to Libya, but the Tunisians emphatic 4-1 win over Guinea means that they need only a draw at home to already relegated Libya to seal a place in the World Cup.
Indeed, it does look like Cédric Bakambu and co, despite their best efforts, are as good as eliminated, but you never know.
In Group C, however, things are certainly much tighter as a solitary point separate first from second. Morocco leapfrogged the Ivory Coast into first at the weekend. The Elephants slipped up in Mali on Saturday, and the Moroccans took full advantage with a 3-0 win over Gabon.
It’s still all to play for in this group as Ivory Coast and Morocco both have their destines in their hands. The math is simple: win your final qualifier and you will be in Russia.
Surely, one can expect an epic showdown in a month’s time when these two square up in Bouaké. The match will decide who qualifies and who waits another four years.
4. No 2018 World Cup for Ghana
Ghana, who have impressed in the previous three World Cups, will play no part in the global showpiece event next year. Egypt’s 2-1 win over Congo was enough to ensure of their place in the finals next year, in the process eliminating the Black Stars and others.
It will be the first time in 28 years that the Pharaohs will feature at the World Cup, and they have Mohamed Salah to thank for getting there. The Liverpool forward has been sensational in this qualifying campaign, scoring five goals. Salah has been at the heart of everything good for the Egyptians, and deserves every bit of adulation he’s getting.
Ghana can only have themselves to blame for not making to the World Cup. The West Africans had a slow start to the campaign and it’s cost them dearly in the end.