Spotting African Battlegrounds For 2018 World Cup Qualifiers
Only Nigeria and Egypt, in Africa, have booked in a spot for the soccer showpiece in Russia next year. Image: Kickoff Nigeria.

The African qualifying race for the 2018 World Cup in Russia will enter its final round this weekend with some mouthwatering clashes.

Already, Nigeria and Egypt have booked their places in Vladimir Putin’s country.

Advertise With Us

The battle for the three remaining slots in the continent will be ignited in three groups.

In Group A, it is a two-way battle between Tunisia and DR Congo, as Guinea and Libya are out of contention.

However, the odds seem to favour Tunisia. They are on 13 points and will be at home to Libya, needing just a point to seal their place in Russia.

Same day, the Congolese will aim for three points and will hope for an upset in Rades to qualify.

DR. Congo sit in second place with 10.

2018 World Cup
Tunisia’s striker Fakhreddine Ben Youssef (L) vies with RD Congo’s defender Issama Mpeko during the World Cup 2018 qualifying football match between Tunisia and Congo on September 1, 2017 at the Rades Olympic Stadium in Tunis. / AFP / FETHI BELAID

In the event that Tunisia lose in Rades and DR. Congo win, the following will be used:

a) goal difference in all group matches;
b) greatest number of goals scored in all group matches.

Similarly, Group B battle is a two-pronged war between the Atlas Lions of Morocco and Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire.

The Moroccan lead the group on 9 points, one ahead of the West African nation. Interestingly, both teams square off in Abidjan on Saturday in a winner-takes-all game.

But then, the 2015 African champions must win to qualify for the World Cup for the fourth straight time.

They will be banking on veteran Salomon Kalu to silence the resurgent North Africans.

2018 World Cup
Ivory Coast needs a win against the Atlas Lions to seal a fourth World Cup showing. Image: AFP

Group D is perhaps the most intriguing of all groups. On paper, the four teams have a mathematical chance of joining the flight to Russia.

Senegal are top of the group, standing with eight points. They are closely followed by Burkina Faso and Cape Verde. Both are on six points. But the two sides have, however, played one game more than Senegal. This is due to their cancelled match with the Bafana Bafana of South Africa, who are on the lowest rung in the group. They have four points from four games.

The Bafana Bafana had defeated the Lions of Teranga 2-1 in November, 2016.

However, world football’s governing body, Fifa, ordered a replay. This followed footage which showed referee Joseph Lamptey had wrongly awarded South Africa a spot kick, which was converted.

A draw in South Africa will see the 2002 Afcon runners up through to Russia. Although this is possible only if Burkina Faso and Cape Verde end their encounter in a stalemate, four days later.

They will also be assured a berth at football’s festival with a win against the Rainbow nation.

Battle For World Cup Ticket Down To The Wire

On the flip side, a win for South Africa will blow the group open. This means the last games in the group, 14 November, will be the decider.

2018 World Cup
South Africa needs a miracle to appear in their first World Cup finals after hosting it in 2010. Image: Getty.

Who joins Nigeria and Egypt on the trip to Russia 2018 World Cup next summer?