African qualifiers for 2022 World Cup: Second-round group pairings

Africa’s race to elect representatives for the next World Cup enters the second round with today’s draw. There are forty teams expected to pooled into 10 groups of four after the draw.

The Nile Ritz-Carlton hotel located in Egypt’s capital Cairo hosted the high and mighty in African football when the second-round draw for African World Cup 2022 qualifiers was held on Tuesday, January 21.



Africa’s race to elect representatives for the next World Cup now enters the second-round with today’s draw. Forty teams were pooled into 10 groups of four after the draw. This qualifying phase starts in March 2020 and comes to an end in October 2021. Ten teams will make it after this stage.



For the third and final round, the ten group winners will be drawn into five two-legged knockout ties to be played in November 2021.



The forty teams pooled today comprised – the 14 winners of the first-round of qualifiers. They were joined by the 26 highest African nations in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking (as of December 2019). Only the section winners advance to the third round and final round.





How the groups played out



GROUP A

Algeria

Burkina Faso

Niger

Djibouti



GROUP B

Tunisia

Zambia

Mauritania

Equatorial Guinea



GROUP C

Nigeria

Cape Verde

Central African Republic

Liberia



GROUP D

Cameroon

Ivory Coast

Mozambique

Malawi



GROUP E

Mali

Uganda

Kenya

Rwanda



GROUP F

Egypt

Gabon

Libya

Angola



GROUP G

Ghana

South Africa

Zimbabwe

Ethiopia



GROUP H

Senegal

Congo

Namibia

Togo



GROUP I

Morocco

Guinea

Guinea-Bissau

Sudan



GROUP J

DR Congo

Benin

Madagascar

Tanzania





The pots




  • Pot 1: Algeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, Ghana, Egypt, Cameroon, Mali, Congo DR

  • Pot 2: Burkina Faso, South Africa, Guinea, Uganda, Cabo Verde, Gabon, Benin, Zambia, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire

  • Pot 3: Madagascar, Mauritania, Libya, Mozambique, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Niger, Central African Republic, Namibia, Guinea-Bissau

  • Pot 4: Malawi, Angola, Togo, Sudan, Rwanda, Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Liberia, Djibouti





How they shape up: FIFA Analysis of groups



Pot 1: Maghreb nations looking strong



The continent’s big guns line up in Pot 1, among them the five nations that represented Africa at the last FIFA World Cup: Tunisia, Nigeria, Morocco, Egypt and Senegal.



Reigning CAF Africa Cup of Nations champions Algeria are in the hat with them. The Desert Foxes missed out on a place at Russia 2018 and will be anxious to return to the World Cup scene for the first time since Brazil 2014. The same goes for Ghana and Cameroon.



Completing Pot 1 are Congo DR and Mali. The Leopards have not graced the world finals since Germany 1974, when they went by the name of Zaire, while the Eagles have never qualified.



Pot 2: Côte d’Ivoire the team to avoid



Two sides with World Cup experience figure in Pot 2: the formidable Côte d’Ivoire, who will be led by their fearsome strike duo of Nicolas Pepe and Wilfried Zaha; and South Africa, who have failed to make the big stage since hosting the 2010 tournament, an absence they are keen to end.



Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Gabon and Naby Keita’s Guinea are two ambitious sides that will also pose a threat, despite their record of never having qualified.



Burkina Faso, Uganda, Cape Verde, Benin, Zambia and Congo are also capable of big things and should not be underestimated.



Pot 3: Outsiders with big ideas



None of the teams in Pot 3 have ever qualified for the biggest tournament in football, though the likes of Madagascar and Mauritania have made significant progress in recent times and look increasingly capable of taking that last step.



Joining them are Namibia, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, who have all been on the qualification campaign trail for several months now. The quartet emerged from a tricky first round and have designs on going further.



Rounding off the pot are Libya, Niger, Kenya and Central African Republic, who all fancy their chances of causing an upset and making the third round.



Pot 4: Potential surprise packages



The fourth and final pot is an indication of the quality on show in the group phase, containing as it does two previous World Cup qualifiers in Togo and Angola.



Alongside them are teams of the calibre of Tanzania – back in the limelight after appearing at their first Africa Cup of Nations in 40 years – Malawi and Liberia, who respectively knocked out Botswana and Sierra Leone in the last round.



Ethiopia, Rwanda, Sudan, Djibouti and Equatorial Guinea also negotiated the preliminary phase and are aiming to make their presence felt in what promises to be an exciting second round.

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Deontay, Fury gear up for rematch Saturday

The two fought to a draw in December 2018.

The much-awaited rematch between two heavyweight champions will come off in Las Vegas, United States this Saturday.

Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder are gearing up for this highly anticipated bout.

“This is the biggest fight in the last 50 years in heavyweight division so both men are putting it on the line and the fans are the only winners here on that Saturday night because we both have a lot to lose. We’re gonna put on an entertaining fight and may the best man win.” Reporter: “Are you still sticking by (your predicion of a) 2nd round knockout?” Fury: “One hundred percent, second round, two rounds”, Fury said.

Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title will be on the line. The champ is assuring fans of an amazing fight.

“This is living witness that things can happen, people can come together and make the best fights happen for the fans to see because that’s the only way we’ll really truly know who is the best in the division and as a heavyweight and it (heavyweight division) was down so many years and now it’s on fire, it’s an amazing feeling just to be a heavyweight right now, but it’s amazing just to put aside all the egos all the politics all the things that’s involved in boxing from not making fight happen, and we can finally come together, and eat at the dinner table together, and give the fans an amazing fight”, Wilder said.

The two fought to a draw in December 2018.

Fury is the lineal heavyweight champ of the world. Wilder is undefeated at 42-0 with one draw. Forty-one of his wins came by knockout.

Fury will step into the ring with a match record of 29-0, also with one draw.

He has recorded knockouts in 20 of his ring wins.

AP

South Africa's rugby team wins World Sports Award

South Africa beat England 32-12 in Yokohama in November to win the World cup. It was their third win led by Siya Kolisi, the first black man to captain the Springboks.

A big win for South Africa’s ruby team as it was named World sports team of the year in Berlin, Monday.

The Laureus Worlds Sports award follows the triumph of the Springboks at the world cup in Japan last year.

“Winning the World Cup obviously, and winning the Laureus Award mean so much and I think the big thing for us is just to continue where we left off and not drop off at all”, said ruby player, Faf De Klerk.

For captain Siya Kolisi “We really enjoyed every single part of it and one thing that I’ll never forget that our coach said: it’s really a privilege to play rugby in South Africa, because you get to impact people’s lives who don’t play rugby and you can bring a country together like we’ve seen in the past couple of weeks.”

South Africa beat England 32-12 in Yokohama in November to win the World cup. It was their third win led by Siya Kolisi, the first black man to captain the Springboks.

Meanwhile, Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton and football superstar Lionel Messi shared the Laureus sportsman of the year award.

The Laureus World Sports award is sport’s equivalent of the Oscars.

AFP

CAF to roll out ambitious reform program [Football Planet]

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) said it was rolling out an ambitious reform program even as it pushed back against accusations of mismanagement

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) said it was rolling out an ambitious reform program even as it pushed back against accusations of mismanagement. An independent audit revealed potential abuse of power and financial impropriety at CAF.

Also on Football Planet, Egyptian giants Zamalek were crowned CAF Super Cup champions after beating Esperance in Doha.

South Africa's cricket captain steps down

On Monday, Plessis was named in South Africa’s squad for the three-match T20 series against Australia, which starts on Friday.

Faf du Plessis on Monday stepped down as South Africa Test and Twenty20 captain.

In a statement, the 35-year-old said he was acting in the ‘best interests’ of the teams, adding that it was ‘‘one of the toughest decision to make’‘.

Plessis was replaced as captain of the one day side by Quinton de Kock in January this year.

Plessis captained his country 112 matches across all formats in a spell stretching back to 2012.

He was rested for both the recent one-day international and T20 series against England, and in January denied reports he would retire after the Test series.

On Monday, Plessis was named in South Africa’s squad for the three-match T20 series against Australia, which starts on Friday.

Mane scores his 100th goal in England as Liverpool beat Norwich

The goal happened to be his 100th in England. He scored 25 goals for Southampton from where he joined Liverpool in 2016.

Senegal international Sadio Mane was on target on Saturday as Liverpool continued their march towards the English Premier League title.

Mane, out for three weeks with a hamstring injury came off the bench to score the only goal of the game at Norwich. The goal happened to be his 100th in England. He scored 25 goals for Southampton from where he joined Liverpool in 2016.

In a post-match interview Mane expressed delight at his feat and at getting back to action: “It wasn’t easy because a as a football player, everyone wants to play all the time but you have to deal with it (injury). I went for some treatment, I worked hard, I came back.”

In 2016, the then 24-year old moved to Jurgen Klopp’s side after two successful seasons at Southampton, netting 25 goals in 75 appearances in all competitions. According to British media reports, Liverpool paid 34 million pounds ($45 million) for his services.

Since the beginning of 2019, Mané has scored 33 times in all competitions for Liverpool, with 17 percent of those strikes being match winners. 16 of those 32 goals being scored with his right foot, seven with his left, and nine with his head.

He has helped Liverpool to the Champions League trophy along with other African counterparts like Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, Naby Keita of Guinea and Cameroon’s Joel Matip.

Salah is the reigning (2019) African footballer of the year; he beat Salah and Man City’s Riyad Mahrez to the award earlier this year. He was instrumental in Senegal’s push for a first African Nations Cup even though they lost the final to Algeria who were led by Mahrez.