Liverpool star Mohamed Salah will likely be a notable absentee resulting from coronavirus journey restrictions when the group section of qualifying in Africa for the 2022 World Cup lastly kicks off on Wednesday.
Salah performs for Egypt, who’re on the UK journey ‘pink checklist’, and he must quarantine for 10 days when he returns from his homeland, sidelining him for 4 fixtures.
Each world physique FIFA and African confederation CAF have pleaded, with out success, for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to exempt African footballers on World Cup responsibility.
Stars in different European international locations may be affected because the pandemic continues to wreak havoc with an African group schedule that has already been delayed 3 times.
Right here, AFP Sport seems on the 10 four-team teams and which international locations could attain the ultimate qualifying stage.
As if going through African champions Algeria, who’re unbeaten in 27 matches since November 2018, was not sufficiently intimidating, rivals Burkina Faso, Niger and Djibouti are barred from enjoying at house.
All should use impartial venues as a result of their stadium amenities and/or pitch doesn’t meet worldwide requirements, making Riyad Mahrez-captained Algeria scorching favourites to advance.
Wahbi Khazri-led Tunisia are among the many most profitable African international locations relating to World Cup qualifying, reaching the finals 5 instances.
They may face powerful opposition on visits to resurgent Zambia, rising Mauritania and bettering Equatorial Guinea, however it could be a shock if they didn’t end first.
Though Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr is pleading warning, the German is aware of that failure to complete above Cape Verde, the Central African Republic and Liberia will set off his dismissal.
Since lacking out on the 2006 World Cup, the Tremendous Eagles have reached each finals and Rohr has greater than sufficient expertise to take care of the profitable streak.
Cameroon had been grouped with Serge Aurier-captained Ivory Coast, the second seeds each coach wished to keep away from when the draw was made in Cairo greater than two years in the past.
Modest southern Africa sides Mozambique and Malawi full a piece that appears like a two-horse race between seven-time World Cup qualifiers Cameroon and three-time contributors Ivory Coast.
High seeds Mali and east African nations Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda make up the one group not containing a earlier World Cup qualifier.
Provided that Uganda have slumped, Kenya flatter to deceive and Rwanda are ranked thirty fifth in Africa, a Malian facet together with Southampton midfielder Moussa Djenepo ought to prevail.
Egypt lifted the Africa Cup of Nations trophy a document seven instances, however have a poor World Cup document, reaching the finals solely twice since official qualifying started in Africa.
“Far too typically we discuss of simple teams, then fail,” warned coach Hossam el Badry earlier than the Pharaohs deal with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang-inspired Gabon, Libya and Angola.
Automated 2010 entrants as hosts, South Africa haven’t reached a World Cup as qualifiers for 20 years and that miserable state of affairs is prone to proceed underneath new coach Hugo Broos.
The Belgian, who made Cameroon African champions in 2017, has chosen a younger, uncooked squad with an eye fixed on the long run, leaving Ghana as favourites to complete above South Africa, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.
This seems the simplest part to foretell with primary ranked African group Senegal, together with Liverpool star Sadio Mane, seemingly far superior to Congo Brazzaville, Namibia and Togo.
Namibia have the added handicaps of no soccer being performed regionally for a number of years resulting from bickering officers, and being amongst eight nations barred from internet hosting matches.
The stress will likely be on Bosnia and Herzegovina-born Morocco coach Vahid Halilhodzic, whose contract states that failure to succeed in the 2022 World Cup can result in the sack.
Morocco are able to gathering most factors at house to Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Sudan, however visits to Conakry and Omdurman will likely be powerful for a group that features Chelsea fringe midfielder Hakim Ziyech.
Maybe essentially the most open part because the Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin, Madagascar and Tanzania are all struggling, with none of them qualifying for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.
Slight favourites DR Congo had been World Cup qualifiers in 1974 when the huge nation was referred to as Zaire and have employed Argentine coach Hector Cuper, who took Egypt to the final World Cup.