It feels like yesterday when we witnessed the 21st edition of the FIFA World Cup in Russia in 2018, a tournament which was won by the highly talented French team when they defeated a Luka Modric inspired Croatia. A lot has happened since that tournament and in the year 2020, soccer came to a halt due to the Covid 19 Pandemic, but normalcy is gradually returning to the soccer fraternity and all preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup to be held in Qatar seems to be going in the right direction.
Africa is yet to make a real impact at the FIFA World Cup tournament because no African team has ever won the World Cup, in fact, no African team has even qualified for the Semi Finals, Ghana came closest to achieving the feat in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa had it not been for the infamous Luis Suarez’ handball which prevented the goal. The 2018 FIFA World Cup was a disappointing one for the African continent as no African team managed to qualify for the last 16, and it remains to be seen how teams from Africa will fare in Qatar, but who is most likely to make it to the World Cup finals.
As usual, a total of five African teams will book a place at the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup and the African FIFA World Cup qualification criteria has three rounds of qualification and we are in the second round at the moment. Below is the criteria for the African World Cup qualifiers:
The top 26 ranked African teams did not participate in round one, instead, they earned a straight passage to the second round.
Teams ranked from 26 – 54, which included Zimbabwe, had to navigate through a first round of home and away matches.
A total of 14 winning teams from the first round will join the top 26 teams to make it 40 teams, and the 40 teams are then divided into 10 groups of four teams to play home-and-away round-robin matches.
The group winners from all the ten groups will then advance to the third round, where they will play home-and-away over two legs, the winners will then qualify for the World Cup finals.
After game day four, a couple of teams have already been eliminated, what this means is that, even if they were to win their remaining matches, they will not be able to occupy top spot, the teams which have been eliminated already are:
These are the teams which have been officially eliminated, there are other teams like Zimbabwe, Gabon amongst others who are not on the list above because they still have a mathematical chance of qualification, but qualification for these teams will be nothing short of a footballing miracle.
At this stage the teams which are leading the 10 qualification groups are:
Most of the teams on this list are expected to be part of the five who will qualify for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, but of course there is still two round of games to play and if you follow football closely, you will realise that a lot will change after the remaining 2 round of games. The fun will surely come in the third round as there will be no room for recovery and the qualification criteria used by CAF will ensure that the best five African teams will represent the continent at the finals, and hopefully, this is the year where Africa finally wins the most prestigious soccer cup. It is fair to say that it is quite difficult to name the teams who will qualify for the World Cup finals at the moment because there is still quite a large number of teams with a chance, but things will become more clearer after the first round of matches in the third round.