2022 WCQ

Profiling the African teams in the Third Round play-offs: Senegal, Morocco, DR Congo

Senegal, Morocco, and DR Congo have qualified for the final two-legged playoffs to secure a place at the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup

Senegal missed out on the World Cup knockout rounds because of their disciplinary record

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) now has a full pot of ten countries for the third round of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. As the referee's whistle signaled full-time at the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium on Tuesday night, Cameroon took their place as the tenth nation to book their place in the final round of qualifying.

Topping their respective groups of four countries each, each team will face-off with another in a two-legged playoff to determine Africa's five representatives at the 22nd FIFA World Cup finals. This is how each team qualified for the third and final round of the 2022 World Cup qualification series.

Qualification route

The Teranga Lions confirmed their status as the highest-ranked country on the continent by breezing through second-round qualifying with 16 points accrued. Aliou Cisse's side dropped their only points during qualifying in a one-all draw away at Togo on Matchday 5.

Senegal scored 15 goals across six matches, conceding only four throughout. Despite their superior attacking statistics, Cisse's guys were porous at the back, keeping only two clean sheets. Their biggest victory was against Namibia at home on Matchday 3, winning by a 4-1 scoreline.

Topscorer

Little-known Famara Diedhiou was Senegal's most prolific scorer in second-round qualifying. The Alanyaspor of Turkey striker scored four goals in four appearances for the Teranga Lions.

World Cup history

Senegal have been to the World Cup finals on only two occasions, Korea/Japan 2002 and Russia 2018. In 2018, they made a piece of history, becoming the first nation to be eliminated on the fair play rule after tying with Japan on the first six tiebreakers.

Where are they now?

Senegal finally broke their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) duck in dramatic fashion against Egypt, but for Cisse the job is not yet done. A rematch against the Pharaohs for a place at the World Cup will ultimately decide whether or not he keeps his job, and Senegal will be under a ton of pressure to back up their triumph in Cameroon and make successive World Cup appearances for the first time in their history.

Qualification route

The Atlas Lions of Morocco were the most impressive side in the African qualifiers topping Group I with a perfect record. Six wins from six matches from Vahid Halilhodžić's boys in qualifying takes them to the third round playoffs with full confidence of picking up one of the five African tickets to Qatar.

Morocco scored 20 goals in six games and their defence was breached just once, away at Guinea on Matchday 4. Their biggest victory came on Matchday 2 at home to Guinea Bissau, running out 5-0 winners.

Topscorer

Hatayspor striker Ayoub El-Kaabi led the way for Morocco, scoring five goals in five matches for the North-African side.

World Cup history

Morocco have been to the World Cup finals on five occasions, debuting at the 1970 edition in Mexico. The Atlas Lions have progressed from the group stages on only one occasion, reaching the Round of 16 in Mexico '86, losing 1-0 to West Germany.

Where are they now?

Considering they were one of the favourites for AFCON glory, Morocco's extra time defeat to Egypt in the Quarter-finals came as a big disappointment. Halilhodzic now faces a real challenge in terms of getting his team in the right mental space for the play-off against DR Congo. The continued absences of Hakim Ziyech and Noussair Mazraoui may also prove a distraction.

Qualification route

The Democratic Republic of Congo qualified for the third round with the least points tally, putting up just 11 points to lead Group J. They won three matches, drew two, and lost one but it was enough to top Benin who lost one more match than the Congolese.

Led by the well-experienced Hector Cuper, DR Congo scored nine times and conceded three as they finished with a flourish, scoring five between their last two games. Their biggest victory came on Matchday 5, a 3-0 away win at Tanzania.

Topscorer

Former Hull City striker, Dieumerci Mbokani scored four goals in six matches to earn the team's top scorer award. The free agent would hope that his impressive displays will land him another club after he was recently released by Royal Antwerp in June 2021.

World Cup history

As Zaire (their former name), DR Congo have appeared at the World Cup finals once, at Germany 1974. They exited the group stage without picking up a point nor scoring a goal, posting an aggregate score of 0-14 in three group stage matches. They have never returned to the World Cup finals since then.

Where are they now?

The Leopards were conspicuously absent from the AFCON, and so will have had a lot to time to stew on the task at hand. They will go into their tie with Morocco as the clear underdog.

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