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African Qualifying Draw

South Africa will compete in the 2010 World Cup as host, though judging by the quality of play displayed by Bafana Bafana the last few years, they barely deserve it. Today the five final-round qualifying groups were forged by FIFA, with two in particular promising a major struggle for a berth.

GROUP A
Togo
Cameroon
Morocco
Gabon
GROUP B
Mozambique
Nigeria
Kenya
Tunisia
GROUP C
Rwanda
Algeria
Egypt
Zambia
GROUP D
Ghana
Benin
Sudan
Mali
GROUP E
Ivory Coast
Malawi
Burkina Faso
Guinea

Where's Senegal? Ousted in the second round. Bad luck for Libya, which had the same second-round group record (4-2-0) as Ghana and Gabon but lost out on goal difference. Ghana and Ivory Coast are heavily favored in their respective groups, while Egypt might be challenged by Algeria.

Groups A and B appear to be the most difficult with Cameroon/Morocco and Nigeria/Tunisia vying for one bid apiece.

By Steve Goff  |  October 22, 2008; 3:23 PM ET
Categories:  2010 World Cup  
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Comments

Goff I know this is off topic, but do you expect to be "on" around the usual 530 time slot?
I just want to make sure I don't miss you telling Russ about "the loss" of Beckham;-)

Posted by: dadryan | October 22, 2008 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Why did Gambia miss out? They finished second in their group, with 9 points. I see that Mozambique finished second in their group as well, with 8 points, but still advanced.

Does anyone know why?

Posted by: bwidell | October 22, 2008 3:59 PM | Report abuse

I think A and E are the toughest. Nigeria wins B hands down. But Ivory Coast, while clearly the favorite, could be challenged by underrated Burkina Faso and by Guinea.

Posted by: Troy | October 22, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Bwidell:

Gambia just missed out. They had only five points in the second-place team standings. Because two qualifying groups had only three teams, the second-place teams in four-team groups didn't get to count their results against the last-place team in their groups.

Does this make sense?

The cutoff, as it turned out, was five points, and Gambia lost on goal difference to Mozambique for the final spot.

Posted by: Troy | October 22, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Goff | October 22, 2008 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Egypt has been out of the World Cup for many years, but they've won the last two African Nations Cups. It would be good to see what they can do on the big stage. Morocco and Tunisia, on the other hand, qualify for World Cup often but never advance.

Ivory Coast definitely deserves another chance on the big stage. They could have made quite an impact in 2006 if they hadn't drawn the proverbial Group of Death.

Posted by: SSMD | October 22, 2008 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Wow at Group A. Cameroon, Morocco and Togo?
Egypt should get through, it's about time some of their ANC success translated to making a World Cup.
Ghana and Ivory Coast should make it through too.

Posted by: Rich C | October 22, 2008 4:20 PM | Report abuse

The good news from those groups:

No Liberia. I'm sure it's hardly "news" that they didn't make it to this round of qualifiers, but now we won't have any reason to lose Doe (or his passport) next year.

Also, no Sierra Leone, so no reason to lose Ibrahim Koroma either.

One thing to possibly worry about, especially considering we should re-sign him immediately following the expansion draft: Boyzzz Khumalo. Do you think his recent play might warrant a call up to Bafana Bafana? God knows he can't be any worse than their current forward corps.

Posted by: AlecW81 | October 22, 2008 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm going with the team with the colorful uniform.

Posted by: Joe Doc | October 22, 2008 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Athletico just equalized

Posted by: dadryan | October 22, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Group A is definitely the group of death.

Group D, though, has Benin, which was in the last WC, and Mali, which has put together a number of impressive performances in '02 and '04 African Nations' Cups... with a midfield of Mahamadou Diarra (Real Madrid), Soumaila Coulibaly (Borussia M'gladbach), Seydou Keita (Barcelona), Mohamed Sissoko (Juventus) and Drissa Diakhité (Nice), they have plenty of skill in the middle of the pitch. Up top, though, they're weaker with "only" Fredi Kanouté (African Footballer of the Year 2007, yeah it was disputed, we all know the Drogba story), and let's just not talk about netminders, nkay?

Of course I'm a fan of Mali, so...

Posted by: Modibo | October 22, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Egypt FTMFW!!!!!!!

The bafana bafana are pathetic, no chance they get past the first round. Unfortunate to say the least, that fractured country could really use a unitying force like their national team.

Posted by: Barca FTMFW!!!!!!!!!!! | October 22, 2008 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Is Togo no longer a threat in Group A? I can't remember in Adebayor ended up quitting or not a few years ago.

Posted by: Chrös | October 22, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Interesting soccer related stuff from techcrunch

IMScouting Pulls Off Ambitious Soccer Data Play

http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/10/22/imscouting-pulls-off-ambitious-soccer-data-play/

Posted by: ahelms | October 22, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

HA! Read the comment at the end of that page:

"Maybe with the Obama administration this will change, with the federal government forcing this sport on us all, in the name of “openness” and “inclusion” –Sorry, I’m about to puke…"

Posted by: RK | October 22, 2008 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Group A: Cameroon, Morocco, Gabon, Togo
Group B: Nigeria, Tunisia, Kenya, Mozambique
Group C: Egypt, Algeria, Zambia, Rwanda
Group D: Benin, Ghana, Mali, Sudan
Group E: Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Malawi

- Group A is definately the group of death, but Cameroon the talent to take the group.
- I don't think Nigeria will be challenged too much by Tunisia. They should advance easily.
- Egypt is probably the best team in Africa and should make it out of their group without any REAL concern.
- Group D is easily the worst group, and is therefore the most wide open. Ghana is probably the favorite in this group, but they were HORRENDOUS on the road in the last round of qualification, with their only win being a 3-2 victory at Lesotho. Those 2 goals were Lesotho's only goals during the entire round. Therefore I am picking Benin, a team on the rise, to pull off the shocker and qualify for the 2010 World Cup for the first time in the tiny country's history.
- For Group E, I think Ivory Coast will make it through. But watch out for Burkina Faso, who won at Tunisia in the last round of qualification. They can give Ivory Coast a run for their money.

Posted by: GoUnited | October 22, 2008 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Cameroon, Nigeria (Tunisia could pull an upset, given that Nigeria is the most notorious underachiever, but the Super Eagles are really loaded this time), Egypt (Zaki rules), Ghana and Ivory Coast.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | October 22, 2008 5:28 PM | Report abuse

AlecW81:

If Khumalo isn't on their radar, he should be. South Africa has really fallen off since the team that made the 1998 WC.

Modibo:

Benin didn't make the last World Cup. The 5 from Africa in 2006 were Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Togo, Angola, and Tunisia.

FF:

Nigeria is certainly an underachiever, but Egypt hasn't made a World Cup since 1990 despite always being there or thereabouts in the Cup of Nations.

***

African World Cup qualifying is by far the least predictable. There are always multiple surprises (like the aforementioned 2006 list...Togo? Angola? Angola's keeper was playing in the Portuguese 3rd division!).

The only team that appears safe is Cote d'Ivoire. Guinea will put up a fight, but it would be shocking to see the Elephants not qualify. Ghana should also get through, as on paper they're far stronger than anyone in their group, but their recent form says they could be ripe for an upset. Egypt got a group with 3 mid-level teams, which should mean easy progress (imagine, say, Costa Rica in a group with 3 El Salvadors), but their constant failure to make it to the big dance proves that nothing's a given. I'll take Tunisia in Group B over Nigeria...the Tunisians seem to be very reliable when it comes to getting through qualifying, even if they're never spectacular and they won't have the talent to do anything in the World Cup itself. That leaves Group A, the clear Group of Death. Cameroon and Morocco look at qualification as something they have a right to, and those with long memories will recall that Cameroon missed qualification due to a injury time minute penalty miss by Pierre Wome (which sent Cote D'Ivoire through). Togo, with Adebayor, can't be ruled out, but I don't see them making a repeat appearance. Give me Cameroon making amends, though not without plenty of drama thanks to Morocco.

Posted by: Chest Rockwell | October 22, 2008 6:35 PM | Report abuse

anyone has online tv for el savado v bolivia game?

Posted by: show me some football | October 22, 2008 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Chest -- my gut told me Tunisia, too based on past performance. Before I could post, my head said "Stop!" So, I took a look at their roster. You can't help but be impressed. They're not quite the All-Star team that Ivory Coast is, but they're good. The midfield is thin (Wikipedia only lists three players) and inexperienced, and their defense is always a little scary -- but it seems the talent is there. They're incredibly deep up top, with Kanu, Yakubu, Uche, and young Victor Obinna, who is getting playing time with what might be the best team in the world -- Inter Milan. I'm guessing that will carry them through.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | October 22, 2008 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Chest -
My bad. Togo and Benin are West African twins on the map- not that they're the same, but they're slivers between Ghana and Nigeria, and unfortunately can sometimes be confused. Thanks for the correction.

But Mali still deserves more respect, at least on paper, than they typically get!

Posted by: Modibo | October 22, 2008 9:42 PM | Report abuse

I thought Mali would do well at the African Nations Cup. I won't make that mistake twice.

Posted by: Fisch Fry | October 22, 2008 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Malawi is there to prove that nothing is imposible to the willing heart. For sure they are to suprise the so called giants of Africa. Just wait and see how Malawi (The Flames) will destroy Group E to ashes.

Posted by: Kizito Maere, Malawi | October 23, 2008 2:36 AM | Report abuse

I'm with the other Troy and Modibo (aside from mixing up Togo and Benin; which, let's be honest, happens fairly often outside of West Africa). Mali can put forward a good team and while Ghana is an excellent side, they are capable of putting out some poor performances in qualifying. There is a reason that 2006 was their first appearance, despite being one of the best footballing nations in Africa for decades.

I'd still take Ghana, Nigeria, and Cameroon from their respective groups.

Posted by: troy | October 23, 2008 4:49 AM | Report abuse

just for giggles, Togo is the non-democratic, economic basket case that plays good football.

Benin is the democratic, stable, economically liberal state that plays terrible football.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2008 4:51 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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