The final round of African qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia will be played across the continent this weekend, with Egypt and Nigeria having secured their slots, three of the five slots at next year’s tournament still to be determined.
FIFA.com looks at the various permutations as African teams head into the final straight.
Congo DR-Guinea, Tunisia-Libya
Tunisia only need a draw when they play Libya, who are already out of the competition, at home. If however, the Libyans perform the unexpected and beat Tunisia all is not lost for the Carthage Eagles if Congo DR fail to defeat Guinea.
However, if the Tunisians lose and the Congolese win, the following criteria will be applied to determine the ranking the two teams, as described in Article 20 of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ regulations:
a) goal difference in all group matches;
b) greatest number of goals scored in all group matches.
If the teams are still equal on the basis of the above, then their ranking shall be determined as follows:
c) greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned;
d) goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned;
e) greater number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned;
f) the goals scored away from home count double between the teams concerned;
g) fair play points system in which the number of yellow and red cards in all group matches is considered according to the following deductions:
– first yellow card: minus 1 point
– second yellow card/indirect red card: minus 3 points
– direct red card: minus 4 points
– yellow card and direct red card: minus 5 points;
h) drawing of lots by the FIFA Organising Committee.
Nigeria have already qualified for Russia 2018.
Côte d’Ivoire-Morocco, Gabon-Mali
The situation in Group C is quite straightforward: Morocco will qualify if they force a draw against Côte d’Ivoire in Abidjan on Saturday but Côte d’Ivoire has to win or else Les Eléphants will have to watch the whole World Cup action on their 4k TV sets next summer.
Replayed match: South Africa-Senegal
Senegal-South Africa, Burkina Faso-Cape Verde
Group D is the most interesting of all the groups as all of the teams in the group have a chance of qualifying, especially as there are actually three matches still to be played, including South Africa-Senegal, which originally took place in November 2016 but will now be replayed on 10 November 2017, as per the recent decision of the Bureau for the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
In the event of Senegal pocketing three points in South Africa, they would be assured of finishing in first place and travelling to Russia next year. A draw may also be enough for Les Lions de la Teranga if, four days later, the Burkina Faso-Cape Verde match ends in a stalemate. Conversely, a South African victory in the replayed encounter would leave all four sides still very much in the hunt with one match remaining.
With Egypt having qualified, national glory is all the players in this group have at stake when they meet this weekend.