With their 2021 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) hopes badly crushed, Ghana’s Black Stars will have to brave themselves up for the immediate future as World Cup qualifiers draw looms.
In Cameroon today, January 22, the Stars will know their fate of who next they will play when the draw for the final round of the qualifiers is held.
The Stars are among 10 teams that are through to the final stage and will know which of the other 9 teams they will be facing.
Based on the last FIFA rankings released last November, the teams have been divided into two, the top five in one group and the other five in the second group.
The first group made up of the top-ranked teams has Senegal (20th), Morocco (28th), Algeria (29th), Tunisia (30th) and Nigeria (36th).
Egypt (45th), Cameroon (50th), Ghana (52nd), Mali (53rd) and Democratic Republic of Congo (64th) make up the second group.
Per the format of the draw, the teams from one group would be paired against those in the other group, which means that Ghana could be drawn against Senegal, Morocco, Nigeria or Tunisia who have all progressed to the next round of the AFCON or against the title holders, Algeria, who like Ghana put up a dismal showing at the AFCON and fallen out already.
Ghana will host the first leg of the final round on a date likely to be confirmed at the draw.
The five winners of this final round would qualify to represent Africa at the 2022 World Cup to be staged in Qatar later this year.
With the AFCON gone badly wrong for some of the 10 final teams, especially Ghana, they would be hoping to use the World Cup as compensation and would thus be looking forward with great anticipation the team to face.
World Cup records
Currently the first ranked team in Africa, Senegal is one of three African teams to have reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup.
They attained that feat in their maiden appearance at the 2002 World Cup in Japan/South Korea. They, however, failed to repeat that feat in their second appearance in 2018.
Second in Africa per the November 2021 ranking, Morocco have made five appearances at the World Cup in 1970, 1986, 1994, 1998 and 2018.
Apart from 1986 that the Moroccans reached the Round of 16 level, they have not been able to go past the group stages.
Twenty-ninth in the world and third in Africa, Algeria will be seeking their fifth World Cup berth having previously qualified for the 1982, 1986, 2010 and 2014 competitions.
Their best showing was at the 2014 tournament in Brazil, where they reached the Round of 16.
Africa’s fourth best team at the moment will be hoping for a chance to secure a sixth World Cup ticket. They have previously been to the tournament in 1978, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2018.
Despite the number of times at the World Cup, they have never gone past the group stages.
Nigeria, ranked fifth currently on the continent are one of the most consistent sides at the World Cup with six appearances – 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010, 2014 and 2018.
In 1994, their first appearance as well as 1998 and 2014, Nigeria reached the Round of 16 stage.
They will be out to seek a seventh ticket to represent Africa at the 2022 tournament.
Despite being King’s of Africa so far as their AFCON success is concerned, Egypt have not been that impressive at the World Cup stage.
They were the first from Africa to play at the World Cup at the 1934 tournament. After that they have been to two other tournaments – in 1990 in Italy and 2018 in Russia.
They would be hoping to avoid another long wait for a fourth with a chance to be one of Africa’s representatives at Qatar 2022.
Ghana, ranked eighth in Africa, made their World Cup debut in 2006 and followed it up with successive qualification in 2010 and 2014.
They are one of the three African sides to have reached the quarter-finals of the tournament when they impressed at the 2010 competition in South Africa.
Mali, ranked ninth are the only side among the top 12 teams in Africa without any World Cup history.
With seven World Cup appearances, Cameroon were the first African side to reach the quarter-finals of the Mundial during the 1990 tournament in Italy.
Before then, Africa’s seventh-ranked side had an appearance in 1982 and subsequently in 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2018. Though they have the most appearances, they have not produced similar performances, a record they would like to improve upon if they get an eighth appearance opportunity.
Ranked 12th in Africa, DR Congo are the only side outside the top 10 to have reached the final round of the World Cup qualifying competition.
They are also the only side in this final group to have missed the 2021 AFCON.
DR Congo have an appearance at the World Cup and that was in the 1974 tournament staged in Germany.