The third round of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) qualifiers for FIFA World Cup 2022 is set to take place this weekend, with 10 teams vying for five spots to compete at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar from 21 November to 8 December.
The first leg of all matches will take place on Friday 25 March. The second leg follows four days later on Tuesday 29 March.
Mali 🇲🇱 vs Tunisia 🇹🇳 – This tie will see Mali and Tunisia face off for the fourth and fifth occasion across the last three years. In what can be described as a cross-cultural rivalry, both sides cannot seem to get the better of each other at this point.
Mali won the most recent encounter in the 2021 AFCON but before that, Tunisia had one win with the other ending in a draw.
Tunisia were knocked out from the 2021 AFCON by familiar foes – the third time Burkina Faso 🇧🇫 had eliminated the Carthage Eagles from the quarter-final stage of the continental showpiece. Tunisia reacted and sacked head coach Mondher Kebaier just days after their elimination.
D.R. CONGO VS MOROCCO
Morocco 🇲🇦 have set sights on reaching consecutive World Cups for the second time in their history. The qualifiers have been smooth sailing for Morocco so far with the North African giants stamping their authority.
The Atlas Lions picked up all available 18 points scoring 20 goals and conceding just once. However, concerns were raised about the legitimacy of Morocco’s form because all six games were played at home due to their opponents experiencing infrastructural issues and coup d’états.
These concerns were vindicated during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) which saw the Atlas Lions crash out to Egypt in the quarter-final.
DR Congo 🇨🇩 begin their final hurdle to book a place in what will be their second-ever appearance at a World Cup, when they face AFCON quarterfinalists Morocco in the play-offs.
Their first appearance at the 1974 World Cup is of distant memory to many natives for various reasons. They were known as Zaire and became the first country from Sub-Saharan Africa to participate in the global showpiece.
The dream of Zaire soon became a nightmare as their appearance in what was supposed to be a memorable and historic moment in African football became one of the most bizarre displays in tournament football.
They finished bottom of their group with a negative goal difference of 14, losing all three group games. The unfolding events were surprising considering Zaire came into the World Cup as winners of the Africa Cup of Nations in 1968 and 1974.
Mwepu Ilunga, who was a defender with the team, revealed that things went south after the players realized they were not going to receive their bonuses. Players were unmotivated and reluctant to play the game against Yugoslavia but eventually gave in. Zaire were defeated 9-0 in what remains the largest margin defeat in World Cup history.
🇨🇩 DR Congo 🆚 Morocco 🇲🇦— CAF (@CAF_Online) March 22, 2022
🏟 Stade des Martyrs
🏆 The first leg of the #WCQ final round
🗓 the 25th of March
⏰ 15:00 GMT
Who will come out on top in the first 90 minutes between the two sides? 🤔 #WorldCup | @fecofa_kinshasa | @EnMaroc pic.twitter.com/mkW6x8HLsb
EGYPT VS SENEGAL
Egypt 🇪🇬 captain Mohamed Salah has vowed to avenge an AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS final loss last month to Sadio Mane. They clash again on Friday in a 2022 World Cup play-off.
Failure in the continental final was particularly bitter for prolific Liverpool scorer Salah as he was also part of the Egyptian team that lost the 2017 Cup of Nations final against Cameroon. Liverpool teammate Mane played a pivotal role in the first Cup of Nations triumph of Senegal — atoning for a penalty miss in regular time by converting the spot-kick that won the shoot-out.
Egypt host the first leg on Friday and Senegal have home advantage next Tuesday with the aggregate winners filling one of five places reserved for Africa at the 32-nation finals in Qatar.
GHANA VS NIGERIA
Nigeria 🇳🇬 are favored, but tradition suggests a close affair with each nation winning twice in previous World Cup qualifiers and four other meetings drawn.
Both fared poorly at the Cup of Nations with Ghana shock first-round casualties after losing to minnows Comoros and Nigeria making a timid last-16 departure against Tunisia.
Nigeria boast a stronger squad than they had in Cameroon with forwards Emmanuel Dennis, Odion Ighalo and Victor Osimhen now available, but injured midfielder Wilfred Ndidi misses out.
Ghana 🇬🇭 fired Serb coach Milovan Rajevac after the Cup of Nations debacle and brought in Otto Addo with former Newcastle and Brighton boss Chris Hughton lending assistance.
CAMEROON VS ALGERIA
Cameroon 🇨🇲 will host Algeria 🇩🇿 for the first leg on Friday, March 25 while the second leg will be played in North Africa four days later.
The two African heavyweights both missed the 2018 edition in Russia and are desperate to make an appearance in Qatar this November. A few months ago, Algeria would have been seen as clear favorites. Heading into the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations as defending champions, a 35-match unbeaten streak came to an end in embarrassing fashion as the North Africans were eliminated in the group stage without winning a game.
The catastrophic showing in Cameroon, including a goalless draw with Sierra Leone and a 1-0 loss to Equatorial Guinea, halted any momentum and plunged the Fennecs into uncertainty.