Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Riyad Mahrez adjust sights to Africa World Cup qualifying

Mohamed Salah switches his attention to 2022 World Cup qualifying this week as Egypt hope to get their campaign back on track.

Fresh from scoring a brilliant goal for Liverpool against Manchester City on Sunday, Salah spearheads the record seven-time African champions when they face surprise Group F leaders Libya home and away.

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The Pharaohs need at least four points to take over first place ahead of the final two rounds in November.

Only the 10 group winners advance to the final qualifying round and Egypt and fellow first seeds Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco and the Democratic Republic of Congo have some catching-up to do.

Group A

African champions Algeria, who boast a talented forward line including Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez, have an impressive home record against Niger in World Cup qualifying, scoring 10 unanswered goals in two matches.

Algeria are riding an African record 29-match unbeaten run, but second-place Burkina Faso can keep pace by defeating Djibouti.

Group B

Table-toppers Tunisia are yet to lost in four previous World Cup qualifiers against Mauritania, and there is nothing to suggest they will not extend that perfect record in Rades.

A Tunisian side captained by Saint-Etienne’s Wahbi Khazri head into the match boosted by two impressive victories while the Mauritanians have disappointed when losing twice.

Group C

Central African Republic face leaders Nigeria without star player – Atletico Madrid midfielder Godfrey Kondogbia.

After a routine home win over Liberia last month, a severely weakened Super Eagles side triumphed away to Cape Verde and they will be back to near full strength for the match in Lagos.

Group D

Considered the toughest section to win as rivals Cameroon and the Ivory Coast have qualified for the World Cup 10 times between them.

The Ivorians hold a one-point lead thanks to a 2-1 home win over the Cameroonians, but the poor state of the pitch at the recently opened national stadium in Abidjan means they must host Malawi in Benin.

Group E

Mali have made a good start in the only section that does not contain a previous World Cup qualifier, building a two-point advantage over Kenya and Uganda with Rwanda last.

A Malian squad including Southampton midfielder Moussa Djenepo are handicapped by having to play home matches in Morocco due to the poor state of their stadiums, but they are favoured to beat Kenya.

Group F

Libya stole a march on Egypt by snatching a late home victory over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Gabon and then winning in Angola.

After shading Angola, Egypt were lucky to hold Gabon and the draw cost coach Hossam el Badry his job with former Real Madrid manager and Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz taking over.

Group G

Pacesetters South Africa face bogey team Ethiopia, who took four points off them in 2014 qualifiers, leading to Bafana Bafana coaches Pitso Mosimane and Gordon Igesund being sacked.

Ghana and Zimbabwe will have new coaches for back-to-back meetings with Serb Milovan Rajevac replacing Charles Akonnor at the Black Stars and Norman Mapeza succeeding Croat Zdravko Logarusic at the Warriors.

Group H

Sadio Mane’s Senegal could seal first place with two victories over closest challengers Namibia, another country affected by stadium standards and forced to host matches in neighbouring South Africa.

The biggest threat to the Senegalese will probably come from Peter Shalulile, a consistent scorer for Mamelodi Sundowns, the dominant club in South Africa.

Group I

Morocco, whose first choice line-up includes star Sevilla forward Youssef en-Nesyri, will play ‘away’ matches against Guinea-Bissau and Guinea at home, giving them a huge advantage.

Leaders Guinea-Bissau do not have an international-standard stadium while Fifa currently considers Guinea an unsafe destination after a coup forced Morocco to flee Conakry last month.

Group J

Tanzania were seeded fourth, but lead Benin on goals scored with section favourites DR Congo third and without a win despite two goals from recalled 35-year-old Dieumerci Mbokani.

The top two meet in Dar es Salaam and Cotonou and former Aston Villa forward Mbwana Samatta captains a Tanzanian team coached by Dane Kim Poulsen.

Updated: October 5th 2021, 5:41 AM


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Publish date : 2021-10-05 05:44:35

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