Everything you need to know about World Cup qualifiers

Only five teams have a chance to qualify

TOPSHOT - A Egypt's fan holds a poster showing Egypt's forward Mohamed Salah before the Russia 2018 World Cup Group A football match between Russia and Egypt at the Saint Petersburg Stadium in Saint Petersburg on June 19, 2018. (Photo by Olga MALTSEVA / AFP via Getty Images)

The first international break of the year is upon us, with national sides picking up where they left off two months ago in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

Starting on Friday, March 25 over the next five days, ten countries will compete to claim the sole five spots for the upcoming 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The five highest-ranked teams are set to play against the five least ranked teams with the first leg being played at home of the lower-ranked teams.

Democratic Republic of Congo v Morocco

DRC are the only team of the 10 still standing who did not qualify for the Nations Cup. DRC was eliminated from African Nations Cup qualifiers by AFCON debutants Gambia and Gabon.

The two-legged confrontation against Morocco is a “historic” opportunity to qualify to the FIFA World Cup. The central African country’s last qualification was in 1974.

According to reports, the Congolese government has promised its national team a million dollars if they defeat the Atlas Lions.

For the Atlas Lions on the other hand, they will be looking to improve their year after a devastating defeat to quarter-finals Egypt in AFCON.

Morocco had gone 20 games without a defeat before the 2-1 defeat by Egypt, after extra time in Yaounde on January 30, which was the last game they played.

Last year, Morocco were the only country to win all six of their World Cup African zone group qualifiers, although had the good fortune of playing all their games at home.

Their three opponents Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Sudan were all stopped from hosting matches because of the poor condition of their stadia and moved their 'home' games to Morocco instead.

Cameroon vs Algeria

Cameroon were last in action at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations which they hosted earlier this year and came third after losing to Egypt on penalties in the semi-finals.

Cameroon and Algeria lock horns at the Japoma Stadium on Friday in the first of a two-legged qualifier for a place at the 2022 World Cup.

The Indomitable Lions advanced to the final stage of the qualifiers after finishing top of Group D in the second round with five wins and one defeat from their six matches.

The North Africans on the other hand, endured a horror AFCON campaign in Cameroon, crashing out at the group stages as defending champions after failing to win any of their three games.

Ghana vs Nigeria

It has been 15 years since Nigeria beat Ghana in a competitive match. Dubbed the Jollof derby, both teams will be aiming to win the social media banter for the unseeable future.

The West African nations surprisingly suffered embarrasing defeats at AFCON. Ghana's opening round exit in Cameroon and their 3-2 defeat by the Comoros ultimately cost head coach Milovan Rajevac his job.

Nigeria, by contrast, excelled during the early stages of the biennial showpiece winning all three group-stage games but they were brought back down to earth with that Last 16 elimination by Tunisia.

Nigeria first went to the World Cup in the US in1994, getting past the opening stage on their debut appearance, and have been to six finals in total.

Ghana first qualified for the World Cup in 2006 at the expense of South Africa after a 2-0 win at Soccer City in a key qualifier and were quarter-finalists in 2010, when they got eliminated after Asamoah Gyan missed a last gasp penalty against Uruguay.

Egypt vs Senegal

It has been two months since Egypt and Senegal squared off in the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations, and now they will do battle again as they take to the pitch for the first of their two-legged World Cup qualifying clash.

We all know what happened in the finals. An exciting penalty shootout, led by Mendy’s brilliant play, won Senegal its African Nations Cup. Now Egypt is out for revenge and a World Cup bid.

Mali v Tunisia

Egypt and Senegal are not alone in renew hostilities so soon after the Nations Cup, with Mali and Tunisia also set to meet again after a recent AFCON collision.

The West Africans won their group-stage tussle 1-0 the result overshadowed by referee Janny Sikazwe's questionable decisions.

Mali are the only one of the 10 countries left in African qualification for the World Cup who have never before been to the finals. Mali did not enter until 2000 and had won only 16 of 44 qualifying matches before the start of the 2022 preliminaries.

Tunisia have been to five past finals, including the last finals in Russia and in 1978 became the first African country to win a match at the World Cup when they beat Mexico 3-1 in Rosario, Argentina.

More from category

Recommended articles

How Wembley Stadium stopped being Chelsea’s second home after Didier Drogba left

How Wembley Stadium stopped being Chelsea’s second home after Didier Drogba left

What Erik Ten Hag said about the future of 'ambitious giant' Ronaldo

What Erik Ten Hag said about the future of 'ambitious giant' Ronaldo

RS Berkane shock TP Mazembe with 11-minute comeback to reach Confederations Cup final

RS Berkane shock TP Mazembe with 11-minute comeback to reach Confederations Cup final

Orlando Pirates survive last-minute scare against Al Ahli Tripoli to reach Confederations Cup final

Orlando Pirates survive last-minute scare against Al Ahli Tripoli to reach Confederations Cup final

Riyad Mahrez misses from the spot as Manchester City drop points on the road

Riyad Mahrez misses from the spot as Manchester City drop points on the road

Aston Villa silences Wilfred Zaha as final day Gerrard-Manchester City showdown looms

Aston Villa silences Wilfred Zaha as final day Gerrard-Manchester City showdown looms