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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Drogba wins prestigious UEFA President's Award

Drogba won the 2012 Champions League as part of a glittering career with Chelsea, in which he scored 164 goals in 381 appearances in all competitions and lifted four Premier League titles

Didier Drogba has been named as the recepient of the 2020 UEFA President's Award.

The former Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker was hailed as a "pioneer" by UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.

"Didier is a hero to millions of football fans for his achievements throughout his glittering playing career," Ceferin said via a UEFA statement.

"I will remember him as a player for his skill, strength and intelligence, but above all for his insatiable appetite to succeed – a trait which is just as present in his desire to help others off the field of play."

Drogba won the 2012 Champions League as part of a glittering career with Chelsea, in which he scored 164 goals in 381 appearances in all competitions and lifted four Premier League titles.

The former Ivory Coast international also scored his country's first goal at a World Cup finals in 2006 and played at a further two tournaments.

Drogba, who retired in 2018 after a final season with Phoenix Rising, has been running a charitable foundation that has helped to build schools for disadvantaged children.

He has also been studying for UEFA's Executive Master for International Players (MIP) programme.

"To have won a Champions League, to have played and scored for my country at a World Cup – these are things I could only have dreamed of when I was a child," Drogba said.

Previous winners of the UEFA President's Award include Bobby Charlton, Eusebio, Raymond Kopa, Johan Cruyff, Francesco Totti, David Beckham and Eric Cantona.

Egypt's Mayar Sherif loses close Roland Garros match in historic debut

She is the first-ever Egyptian female tennis player to reach the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament.

Egypt's Mayar Sherif lost 2-1 on Tuesday in the first stage of the Grand Slam competition Rolan Garros to world number 4 Karolina Pliskova after a close match.

Despite the defeat, she reached a historic level.

She is the first-ever Egyptian female tennis player to reach the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament.

She won the first set (7-6) before losing the next two sets (6-2) (6-4).

On Wednesday, she became the first Egyptian female to win a Grand Slam match after overcoming Colombian teenager Maria Camila Osorio Serrano.

She is also the country's first female tennis player to make it into the Olympic games.

"It's been very good, such a good feeling to be here, to compete here, to compete out in the stadium of Philippe Chatrier today. It was an amazing feeling. I cannot describe it. It just gave me so much energy," she told a press conference.

Due to her historic achievement, she was applauded by Liverpool star Mo Salah on Twitter.

"I am inspired because he's one of the best football players in the world, and to see someone very successful supporting other successful people in his country, it just gives you some energy just to know that there are good people out there and people who are already successful are willing to support you," she said.

Senegalese allege racism in Diack corruption verdict

Dakar residents alleged racism and said Wednesday’s verdict by a Paris court was unjust.

Senegal and the sporting world has been shaken after the former head of the world athletics body, Lamine Diack, was found guilty of corruption by a Paris court.

Residents in Dakar alleged racism and said Wednesday's verdict by a Paris court was unjust.

"As a Senegalese, I think it was an injustice to condemn him. African people are tired because if Lamine Diack was a white person, he would not be sued, arrested," said Cheriphe Toure.

"It is not normal, he is a Senegalese, he is about 80 years old and they want to put him in prison, he is tired. The trial (against Diack) is not a real trial, it's just politics."

Lamine, an 87-year-old Senegalese, was charged for his role in a scheme that allowed Russian athletes to pay bribes to keep competing when they should have been suspended for doping after they paid bribes.

Prosecutors said Diack solicited $5.5 million in bribes and paid off other officials at the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to help with the cover-up.

The court handed Diack a four-year prison sentence, two years of which are suspended and a fine of $590,000.

He was also ordered to pay €5 million in damages to World Athletics (formerly IAAF) with his son and co-accused, Papa Massata Diack.

From 1999-2015 Diack was the head of the IAAF and was influential in the world of Olympic sports.

Diack's lawyers said they would appeal the verdict.

"I think if the law is valid in France, it will be overturned because it's really unfair," Abdoulaye Diagne, Coordinator of the support committee for Lamine Diack.

Africans Marking Football Around the Globe

A brief spotlight on some notable African players making an impact on international football.

Riyad Mahrez, hailing from Algeria - the Manchester City star has tested positive for coronavirus, according to the club’s spokesperson. Although asymptomatic, he is currently self-isolating.

The 29-year old 2016 Best African Player titleholder, is due to begin the Premier League season with the team's first fixture on September 21st. As yet, it is still unclear as to when he contracted the virus and whether he will be able to play.

Ansu Fati, the football prodigy born in Guinea Bissau, broke a 95-year record after only 311 days - as at just 17 years old he has become the youngest ever goal-scorer of the Spanish National Team.

The next Lionel Messi?

He made his historical mark in the winning 4 nil match against Ukraine in the UEFA Nations League on Sunday.

After he became Barcelona’s youngest goalscorer in La Liga last season and the youngest to ever score in the European Champions League, he is viewed by many as the next Lionel Messi.

Cedric Bakambu continues to shine in China. The Congolese striker added a new goal to his 2020 collection a week after scoring 4 goals in a single game.

Despite a 2-goal lead against Wuhan Zall, his team Beijing Guoan had to concede a 2-2 draw. This was thanks to a late equaliser from the other African star of the league, Ivorian striker, Jean Evrard Kouassi.

Drogba’s FIF Presidential Candidacy Bid Rejected

Didier Drogba has been announced unsuccessful at filing a FIF presidential candidacy bid.

Access Denied

International football star, Didier Drogba, received some bad news on Thursday when the Electoral Commission of the Ivorian Soccer Federation (FIF) rejected his candidacy for the presidency of the federation. "The electoral commission (...) rejects the candidacy of Mr. Drogba Tébily Didier Yves Tébily," reads a section of Article 5 of the negative decision of the commission.

Rejected but with the possibility to appeal

This rejection was based on criticisms of the former striker for several eligibility requirement breaches and highlights the challenges the star faced in trying to establish himself within the Ivorian football industry in spite of his international status, athletic track record and personal wealth — and beyond just being a player on the field.

Eligibility Requirements

Drogba, who was partly trained in France and once played for European clubs, Chelsea and Marseille, only managed to obtain sponsorship of two first division clubs — one short of the three required.

Although he does, in fact, have three club sponsors on file, the third technically did not count as it came by way of the vice-president and not the president himself who gave his support to the president of the League, Sory Diabaté (who boasts the support of six Division 1 clubs).

Interest groups also must follow the same rules as each candidate is required to obtain sponsorship of at least one of five in particular. Drogba was unable to garner support from neither the Alumni Association nor the Ivorian Players Association.

Likewise, on file, he did have the support of the association of referees (AMAF). However, it was a similar situation of falling short by a technicality as "the sponsorship" was from a person "who does not have the capacity to legally commit the AMAF," according to the electoral commission.

Public and Peer Opinion

One of the most famous and celebrated public Ivorian personalities, Didier Drogba, has been a treasure to the country's national football team and has received from many of his former teammates and peers such as Eugène Diomande, the Yaya and Kolo Touré brothers, Aruna Dindane and many others.

Many fans and peers still support Drogba

On the other hand, some of his other industry colleagues have shown support for Idriss Diallo, the former 3rd vice-president of the Fif (supported in particular by the current vice-president of the Fif), such as Cyril Domoraud, Bonaventure Kalou or Ahmed Ouattara.
Still more colleagues such as Didier Zokora, Youssouf Fofana and Abdoulaye Traore (known as Ben Badi) supported the president of the League, Sory Diabaté.

The Ivorian football icon has five days to make an appeal to the governing commission.