Nigeria have been drawn in the same group with Cape Verde, Central African Republic and Liberia for the second round of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
The simple but colourful ceremony inside The Nile Ritz-Carlton in Cairo, Egypt on Tuesday evening, was conducted by CAF’s Director of Competitions Samson Adamu; Ivorian Clementine Toure and 1998 FIFA World Cup winner Marcel Desailly, saw the 40 teams remaining in the race on the African continent drawn into 10 groups of four teams each, with Nigeria heading Group C.
The Super Eagles will hope to manoeuvre their way past their rivals in Group C for a chance to feature in their seventh appearance in the tournament.
Just like they will fly westward twice in their remaining campaign for a place at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Freetown, Sierra Leone and Cotonou, Benin Republic), the Eagles will fly westward twice in the race to Qatar (Praia, Cape Verde and Monrovia, Liberia).
Nigeria’s first game, coming up in October this year, will be against the Lone Star of Liberia, who reached this stage after shoving neighbours Sierra Leone in the first round.
Since making their debut in the quadrennial tournament in USA 1994, Super Eagles only failed once to qualify for the competition in 2006.
Cape Verde, Central African Republic and Liberia have never qualified for the global tournament.
African champions Algeria head Group A and will have two interesting games against the Etalons of Burkina Faso, with Niger Republic and Djibouti also in the pool.
Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles head Group B which also has Zambia, Mauritania and Equatorial Guinea, but the presence of Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire in Group D makes that pool most interesting. They are joined by Mozambique and Malawi.
Meanwhile, Group E looks the most evenly set, with Mali, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda –none of which had been to the FIFA World Cup previously.
Group G is also mouth-watering, as Ghana, quarter finalists at the only FIFA World Cup finals to have been hosted on African soil, face the country that hosted that finals in 2010, South Africa, as well as Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.
Certainly, Group J is similarly something to savour, as Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin Republic and Madagascar are joined by Tanzania.
Each of the 40 teams will play two matches each towards the end of this year, with the remaining four matches coming up next year. The third and final round of the qualifiers will see the 10 winners of the pools drawn into five explosive home-and-away fixtures that will produce Africa’s flagbearers in Qatar. Those knockout games come up in November 2021.
Central African Republic