Arab wings, the “Jollof Derby” and five African cup finals

African Football fans across the continent and elsewhere were on the edge of their seats as the Qatar 2022 FIFA World cup playoffs produced some mouth-watering results and the setting for 5 explosive fixtures next Tuesday, March 29, 20022 in Dakar, Rabat, Tunis, Algiers and Abuja with Egypt beating Senegal 1-0 at home in Cairo in the replay of the Afcon finals, Algeria and Tunisia winning 1-0 each away in Cameroon and Mali respectively and Morocco drew 1-1 away to Congo.

Ghana and Nigeria played out a goalless draw in the “Jollof derby” in Kumasi Ghana and all to play for next Tuesday in what will be five Cup finals

13 of the best

Africa has been represented at the World Cup by 13 African Countries out of 54 member associations and from the 10 teams remaining, 9 of them have been to the World cup and only Mali will be making their debut if they do qualify. 

  • 7 – Cameroon – 1982, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002
  • 6 – Nigeria – 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010, 2014, 2018
  • 5 – Morocco – 1970, 1986, 1994, 1998, 2018
  • 5 – Tunisia – 1978, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2018
  • 4 – Algeria – 1982, 1986, 2010, 2014
  • 3 – Cote d’ Ivoire – 2006, 2010, 2014
  • 3 – Egypt – 1934, 1990, 2018
  • 3 – Ghana – 2006, 2010, 2014
  • 3 – South Africa – 1998, 2002, 2010
  • 2 – Senegal – 2002, 2018
  • 1 – Congo DR – 1974
  • 1 – Angola – 2006
  • 1 – Togo – 2006

Cameroon will make it a record 8 appearances at the World Cup if they qualify but if they don’t and Nigeria qualify, then the Super Eagles will match their 7 appearances.

Cameroon’s best showing was in Italy in 1990 when Roger Milla inspired them to the quarterfinals. Nigeria on the other hand have been to the round of 16 thrice, 1994, 1998 and 2014 but it was their memorable debut at USA 94 that they built their World cup legacy.

Morocco and Tunisia have been to the world cup 5 times each and will match Nigeria on 6 appearances if they qualify and the Super Eagles don’t qualify.

 Algeria will make this a 5th appearance if they do qualify and despite taking a one goal advantage from Cameroon, if they fail to qualify, then Egypt and Ghana will move to 4 appearances each if both qualify.

Mali needs to overturn their one goal deficit to Tunisia which will be their first appearance but also make them the 14th African Nation to make their World cup debut.

Senegal have only been to the world cup twice yet possess the joint best African best performance at the World cup, quarterfinals in 2002, and a win over Egypt will earn them a 3rd appearance.

Congo went to the World cup in 1974 as African Champions and their not too memorable debut seems like distant memory, so they crave a second appearance going to Morocco with a 1-1 draw at home.

What about an Arab clean sweep? 

The Arab North African countries already got a taste of Qatar at the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 with Algeria winning it, but they would like to return to Qatar for the main event in November despite failing to convince at Afcon in Cameroon in January and February.

However, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco have done their chances a world of good with their performance and results from the first leg games where Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia just need to avoid defeat to go through to Qatar and Morocco needs at least a goalless draw to go through.

Is there a chance we will see all four of them back in Qatar for the World Cup?

Let us look at the games, a brief recap on the previous confrontations that occurred between these teams in the past and their World cup history: 

AFCON final replay: Egypt Vs Senegal:

Senegal needs to win by 2-0 to secure their ticket or a 1-0 win to force another penalty shootout. A 2-1 win will see them lose to Egypt on away goals rule, while Egypt needs to avoid defeat, and any draw will also see them through.

Egypt will try to be conservative, but Senegal will need to come out and try to cancel the own goal conceded by defender, Ciss from Mohamed Salah’s effort which came off the crossbar, if they want to go to the World Cup.

Egypt have been the most successful African team in Afcon history becoming champions a record 7 times but despite being the first African Country to feature at the FIFA World Cup as far back as the second edition in Italy 1934, they have not carried their Afcon pedigree to the global showcase.

Egypt crashed out in the first round in 34, and they did not make it to the World cup again, until 56 years later once again in Italy 1990 and their third appearance in Russia 2018.

Egypt and Senegal entertained us at the Afcon 2022 finals last month, with much of the attention on Liverpool teammates Mo Salah and Sadio Mane with the Lions of Teranga emerging as African Champions much to the disappointment of Salah and the Pharaohs but we have seen Egypt pull away in Cairo with a narrow win, so look out for a thriller in Dakar.

Both teams have only ever met once in World Cup qualifying back in 2002, with a draw in Dakar, and Egypt’s winning in Cairo, but Senegal would go on to make their World cup bow in Korea-Japan 2002 where they went all the way to the quarterfinals

Egypt team and Senegal have met 13 times, five times during the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), where each team has won two matches and there was a draw once. It is noteworthy that the last confrontation that took place between both teams in AFCON, ended up with the winning of Senegal in Cameroon. 

Not to mention, the two teams were also meant to compete during the continental qualifiers for the 2015’s AFCON, and Senegal won in all the matches played against Egypt back then. 

When it comes to the exhibition game, the two teams had a set of friendly matches taking place in 2003 and 2005, where Egypt won in all matches. Another winning was scored by Egypt over Senegal during the African Games in 1987. 

Algeria Vs Cameroon:

Algeria takes a 1-0 advantage back home and another win or a draw will hand them the ticket, but the Desert Foxes know that any win for Cameroon away will count double and eliminate them.

Islam Slimani scored the one goal for Algeria.

The indomitable Lions toiled in vain in Yaoundé under new Coach, and Cameroon Legend, Rigobert Song and Tuesday will tell if it was a smart decision to replace their Coach.

Algeria and Cameroon both made their world cup debut at the same tournament in Spain 82 with Algeria becoming the first African team to win two games beating West Germany 2-1 and Chile 3-2, but the Indomitable Lions drew all three group games leaving undefeated including a 1-1 draw with eventual champions, Italy

Both teams have only met once in World cup qualifying in 2017 with Cameroon winning at home 2-0 and the away game in Algiers ending in a 1-1 draw, both failed to qualify for Russia 2018 with Nigeria toping the group.

Algeria and Cameroon met in 10 confrontations, including the latest game from Friday, and 5 in the AFCON, where Cameroon won three times, and there was a draw twice. 

Furthermore, both teams met only once during the Blair African Championship, where Algeria has scored winning over its Cameroonian counterpart. 

Both teams have also met once during the African Games, where they drew.

Tunisia Vs Mali: 

Tunisia has a huge advantage with their away win over the Eagles of Mali away from home and they know they can pull through with a draw and the Cathage Eagles know how to play for these kinds of results.

Mali have never qualified and the task at hand will be challenging if they are to make the breakthrough.

Tunisia became the first African team to win a game at the World cup back in Argentina 78 when they beat Mexico 3-1 and they have been to

Mali have yet to feature in the global showcase but did announce themselves at the FIFA U20 World cup in Nigeria 99 when Seydou Keita led them but despite their golden generation which included the likes of Freddie Kanoute, they didn’t make it.

This group has Tunisia standing on their way and they have met 9 times, including 6 official and 3 friendly matches. They met in the African qualifiers for the 1972’s Munich Olympics over two matches, where Mali won the first one, and Tunisia won the second. 

They also met three times during the AFCON, where Mali won the three times; twice in 1994 and once last 2021 in Cameroon.  

Both teams had their share of exhibition games; the first was in 2006, which ended with Mali’s winning, and the second and third matches were in 2011 and 2021, which both ended with Tunisia’s winning. 

Morocco Vs the Democratic Republic of the Congo: 

The Democratic republic of Congo will travel to Morocco on the back of a 1-1 draw in Kinshasa and while the Atlas Lions will fancy their chances having scored an away goal, the Leopards will have to aim for a win if they are to return to the World cup 48 years after their debut in West Germany 1974.

Morocco became the second African team to participate at the FIFA World Cup in Mexico 70 where they earned a 0-0 draw with West Germany and the Democratic Republic of Congo followed suit in West Germany 74 with a not so complimentary performance losing all three games to Brazil and but worse still, a 0-9 defeat to Yugoslavia.

However, Morocco became the first African Country to make it to the round of 16 when in their second appearance again in Mexico, they produced a memorable campaign

Morocco subsequently featured at the USA 94, France 98, Korea-Japan 2002

Both teams have met 14 times, where Morocco won 4 matches, Congo won 3, and they both drew 7 times.

Ghana v NigeriaThe “Jollof Derby”

Nigeria v Ghana in Abuja on Tuesday, Mach 29 will be a epic cup finals, fierce, competitive and all to play for in one of African Football’s greatest rivalries between two countries with lots of historical ties, especially being the two biggest former British Colonies in West Africa and the goalless draw in Kumasi, Ghana is the perfect setting for the latest edition of the “Jollof derby.”

The friendly rivalry between both countries has in recent times extended to Music and Food, hence the new appellation, “Jollof derby”

Jollof rice is a west African staple that countries like Senegal, Togo, Benin and Nigeria all lay claim to, but Ghana and Nigeria seem to have elevated theirs to a new level and the Jollof debate will be settled by the outcome of this game much more than the ultimate prize, the coveted World Cup ticket.

Every game between them is important and the sheer number of ties prove this, 56 games in all with Ghana winning 25, Nigeria 12 and 19 draws.

They faced each other four times in World Cup Qualifying going back to Chile 62, Mexico 70 and West Germany 1974, all which Ghana won over two legs each but failed to qualify but Nigeria triumphed in Korea-Japan 2002 Qualifiers, beating Ghana in the final group game to earn their ticket.

Ghana have won the African Cup of nations 4 times to Nigeria’s 3 titles

Nigeria did make their World cup debut at USA 94, and so far, have been to 6 of the last 7 tournaments making the round of 16 three times but Ghana who only debuted in Germany 2006 where they got to the round of 16, have one of Africa’s top performances when they got to the quarterfinals in South Africa 2010, equalling Cameroon’s 1990 and Senegal’s 2002 record.

All eyes will be on the inform Napoli and Nigeria Striker, Victor Osimhen who failed to sparkle in Kumasi.

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