Nigeria have been drawn to square up against Cape Verde, Central African Republic (CAR) and Liberia in the penultimate round of the qualifying race for the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals.
The draw for the qualifiers took place on Tuesday at a simple but colourful ceremony in Cairo, Egypt.
It was conducted by CAF’s Director of Competitions, Samson Adamu, Ivorian Clementine Toure and 1998 FIFA World Cup winner Marcel Desailly.
The 40 teams remaining in the race on the African continent were drawn into 10 groups of four teams each, with six-time finalists Nigeria heading Group C.
The Eagles are already billed to head westward twice in their remaining campaign for a place at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (Freetown, Sierra Leone and Cotonou, Benin Republic)
It is in the same vein that they will head westward twice in the race to Qatar (Praia, Cape Verde and Monrovia, Liberia).
Nigeria’s first game in October will be against the Lone Star of Liberia, who reached this stage after shoving aside neighbours Sierra Leone in the first round.
African champions Algeria head Group A and will have two interesting games against the Etalons of Burkina Faso, with Niger Republic and Djibouti also in the pool.
Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles head Group B which also has Zambia, Mauritania and Equatorial Guinea, with the presence of Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire in Group D making that pool very interesting.
They are joined by Mozambique and Malawi.
Meanwhile, Group E looks the most evenly set, with Mali, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda —- none of which had been to the FIFA World Cup previously.
Group G is also mouth-watering, as Ghana, quarter-finalists at the only FIFA World Cup finals to have been hosted on African soil, face the country that hosted that finals in 2010, South Africa.
They also have as well Zimbabwe and Ethiopia to contend with.
Certainly, Group J is similarly something to savour, as Democratic Republic of Congo, Benin Republic and Madagascar are joined by Tanzania.
Each of the 40 teams will play two matches each towards the end of this year, with the remaining four matches coming up next year.
The third and final round of the qualifiers will see the 10 winners of the pools drawn into five explosive home-and-away fixtures that will produce Africa’s flagbearers in Qatar.
Those knockout games come up in November 2021.
The Full draw
Central African Republic (CAR)