Football

Five World Cup slots up for grabs as African heavyweights lock horns

SINAN RAJUB SENOGA

The final qualification round of the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers on the African continent gets underway on Friday with all the five games on the cards.

DR Congo host Morocco in the first leg encounter at the Stade de Martyrs in Kinshasa.

Morocco will be aiming to bounce back from a very disappointing display in the AFCON while the Congolese are seeking their second appearance in the World Cup since 1974.

Mali will renew acquaintances with Tunisia in the second game on the menu at the Stade du 26 Mars which will be the first time Mali are hosting a World Cup Qualifier at home in this campaign.

Both sides faced off in the AFCON tournament in a game that ended in a controversial way after Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe blew the final whistle before the 90th mark.

Mali have included Everton workaholic midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure in their squad after switching allegiance from France while Tunisia have since then sacked their coach due to a poor show in the AFCON.

Cameroon host 2019 AFCON winners Algeria at the Japoma Stadium in Douala. This will be the first assignment for newly appointed Cameroon coach Rigobert Song since taking over from Toni Conceciao.

Algeria have added Turkish based forward Rachid Ghezzal to their squad after missing the AFCON but excluded Yacine Brahimi instead.

Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi has also stated that he should be sacked if his team fails to qualify for the global showpiece.

Ghana host their neighbors Nigeria in Kumasi at the Baba Yara Stadium.

Nigeria have been boasted by the inclusion of Victor Osimhen, Odion Ighalo and Emmanuel Dennis after missing out on the AFCON tournament while Alex Iwobi is sidelined by suspension.

Ghana will be without their inspirational skipper Andre Dede Ayew who got red carded in their last game against Comoros whereas his young brother Jordan has been entrusted with the team’s leadership.

Egypt host Senegal in a repeat of the AFCON final at the Cairo International Stadium.

The game is also a head to head between Liverpool star men Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

It’s been confirmed that all games will be using the Video Assistant Referees.

The second legs will be played on 29th March with the five eventual aggregate winning teams booking a place in the 2022 World Cup to be held in Qatar later this year.

1st Leg Fixtures

• DR Congo vs Morocco – Stade de Martyrs Kinshasa (6pm)

• Mali vs Tunisia – Stade du 26 Mars (8pm)

• Cameroon vs Algeria – Japoma Stadium, Douala (8pm)

• Egypt vs Senegal – Cairo International Stadium (10:30pm)

• Ghana vs Nigeria – Baba Yara Stadium, Kumasi (10:30pm)

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