لمدة عامين المهاجم المغربي "نبيل الزهر" في صفوف الفريق، قادماً من نادي ليجانيس الإسباني.— النادي الأهلي الرياضي (@ahliqat) 30 mai 2019
بحضور كل من مدير النادي السيد/ عارف عبدالرحمن، والمدير الرياضي السيد/ عبدالله جاسم. pic.twitter.com/Pg723Zk4pu
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
Central African Republic
- 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
Nothing more special than being reunited with your loved ones ??#WorldCup #WCQ
FIFAcom</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/FIFAWorldCup?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">FIFAWorldCup
marceldesailly</a>] <a href="https://t.co/6bs4fyeWto">pic.twitter.com/6bs4fyeWto</a></p>— CAF (CAF_Online) January 21, 2020
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.
President of the Saudi Arabia Football Federation has said he is not concerned by Iran’s threat to boycott the 2020 Asian Champions League (AFC).
Yasser Almisehal said Saudi clubs will be playing as usual.
“The Asian Football Federation assesses the situation in the hosting countries, and the AFC Competitions and Executive Committees make decisions based on that, and when they think the situation is not safe to host matches in some country, they take the necessary measures. Saudi teams are ready to play anywhere. We only focus on our matters and interest. This issue is an internal one, it only concerns Iranians and we don’t want to comment on it”, he said.
Saudi club Al Hilal won the title last year. It was the first time a team from the country had triumphed in Asia’s top club competition since Al-Ittihad triumphed in 2005.
Iran has threatened to boycott the 2020 AFC Champions League if they are banned from hosting international matches.
Arguably the best Cameroonian club side in history, Union sportive of Douala a one time national treasure today represents a shadow of its past. Nasara Gamakai in crisis, we take you over to Douala for the details.
A series of top rated derbies on the continent as we take you to Zambia where Zanaco and Zesco united crossed the sword over the weekend, Supersports united beaten at home by Sundowns and we shall also look at the Senegalese top flight plus what made news in Liberian football over the weekend.
Customarily we take you to Europe where African players as the case will be every weekend scored goals in some of the top five European leagues, Mo Salah stole the show at Anfield as Liverpool silenced Manchester united 2-0 on Sunday.
Chelsea and German international Antonio Rudiger has donated $100,000 towards free education project by the Sierra Leone government. The player said it was his contribution towards the development of the country of his parentage.
He made the donation when he met with President Julius Maada Bio in London on the sidelines of the ongoing UK-Africa Investment Summit.
Rudiger said he was donating the money as his modest contribution to the President’s flagship project, which aims to support over two million children in primary and secondary schools in the West African nation.
He further stressed the importance of education to the human capital development of a nation, adding that that was the bedrock for every national development.
“Sierra Leone is my home. I’m not the talking type of a person, I am about action. You can count on us and do not hesitate. We are here to support your vision and agenda, especially on education. I am ready to take on my responsibility to change the narrative and image of Sierra Leone,” he said.
The player’s links to Sierra Leone is via his parents who fled Sierra Leone during the war and resettled in Germany. Rüdiger assured the President that he was committed to supporting his government’s effort at rebranding the natural resource-rich country with huge potentials for investments.
The Minister of Education, Dr Moinina David Sengeh who was present at the ceremony stressed that the funds will put to best use. First Lady Fatima Bio, who has been a strong advocate for girl child education and protection was also present. The player presented customized jerseys to the First Couple.
Rudiger’s humanitarian work back “home” goes beyond this donation given that he has in the last few years paid for corrective surgeries for children with cleft lips and burns.
The 2021 African Cup of Nations is moving back to a January-February slot in the congested global soccer calendar, a switch likely to be unpopular with European clubs.
The 24-nation competition was originally planned to begin in June, but the Cameroonian soccer federation said Wednesday it will be held from Jan. 9-Feb. 6 to avoid the country’s rainy season.
The new tournament dates will likely be unpopular with European soccer clubs, which have long objected to the mandatory release of their players in the middle of the domestic league seasons.
The current Liverpool squad would stand to lose star forwards Sadio Mane of Senegal and Mohamed Salah of Eqypt, the past two African players of the year.
The influential European Club Association has been part of talks with FIFA to move toward coordinating all continental championships in the European offseason. The 2019 Cup of Nations, hosted by Egypt as a late replacement for Cameroon, was the first in the new June slot.
FIFA’s revamped Club World Cup competition also kicks off in June 2021, with a 24-team lineup including Liverpool set to play in China.
Moving the 2021 African Cup of Nations clears a competing tournament from the calendar and avoids a clash for African players at top European clubs.