The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has the lowest ratio of qualifiers every four years for the World Cup, the event that generates the most sports betting in the world.
With only five qualifiers, is the African continent being short-changed? [COMMENT]
#FeatureByStivMedia - Of the 54 African applicant nations, only five will represent the continent in the Qatar 2022 World Cup
Of the 54 applicant nations, only five will represent the continent in Qatar at the end of the year. That privilege has been earned at the cost of a grueling and selective formula, to say the least.
The road to Qatar is more difficult from Africa than from Europe: with thirteen places allocated for 55 candidates, UEFA is not to be pitied, and is even one of the confederations with the most entries behind the indestructible Conmebol (South America) and its 4.5 places for ten candidates.
For the African confederation, it is a different story.
No direct access in Africa
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) is asking the question of the formula with insistence.
Where every continent offers direct qualification for the World Cup, no such pass exists in Africa. It is necessary to go through a group phase (ten pools of four), at the end of which it is necessary to finish first at all costs to play a play-off in a back-and-forth battle.
"It's very difficult for African countries to qualify," Hugo Lloris rightly observed after France's' difficult victory over Côte d'Ivoire, second in their group behind Cameroon and therefore absent from Qatar.
Ricardo Faty, a former Senegalese international (7 selections), shared the same view about the difficulty of securing a place at the World Cup: "It's high time we discussed the African zone's qualifications: it's unacceptable to have only 5 places for such a large confederation! And with very competitive nations now...".
All eyes are on Senegal, winner of this year's CAN and African team favourite for the World Cup.
However, there is a slight difference: FIFA takes into account the performance of each confederation in order to distribute the accesses. And it turns out that the presence of African nations beyond the group stage is still largely a minority.
In Russia four years ago, neither Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Tunisia nor Senegal made it out of the group stage. An uneven situation since 1998 for which CAF is now paying the price.
Things will change in 2026
Fortunately, things are about to change. During the next qualifying round for the 2026 World Cup, the African zone will benefit from four additional entries (9 in total) and the largest number of qualifiers behind... UEFA (16).
This increase is linked to the increase in the number of nations, which are set to rise from 32 to 48 in the final phase. It now remains to be seen what formula CAF will adopt to designate its representatives in America (United States, Mexico, Canada).