2022 WCQ

Profiling the African teams in the Third Round playoffs: Algeria, Tunisia, Nigeria, Cameroon

Algeria, Tunisia, Nigeria, and Cameroon have qualified for the final two-legged playoffs to secure a place at the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup

Nigeria's Super Eagles are amongst 10 African teams who have qualified for the final round of World Cup qualification

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 Desert Warriors of Algeria topped Group A with 14 points, edging out Burkina Faso who finished with 12 points. Djamel Belmadi's side won four games and drew two to stamp their authority on the group.

Algeria scored 25 goals in their six group games, the highest of any African country in the second round of qualifying. They conceded just four goals, to finish with a +21 goal difference. Their biggest win during this qualification round was an 8-0 victory over Djibouti on Matchday 1.

Topscorer

Lyon's Islam Slimani was Algeria's top scorer in World Cup qualifying, scoring seven goals in six matches. His tally was the highest in the continent for the second round of qualifying.

World Cup history

The Desert Warriors of Algeria have been to the World Cup finals on four occasions, the first being in 1982. Their best outing at the Mundial was a Round-of-16 placing at the Brazil 2014 edition where they got knocked out by eventual champions Germany.

Where are they now?

Algeria were dismal at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in January, finishing bottom of Group E and exiting in the Group Stage with a single point from three matches despite coming in as defending champions. Against this backdrop, coach Djamel Belmadi is under intense pressure to get his side back to winning ways.

He has dropped underperforming striker Baghdad Bounedjah, as well as West Ham forward Said Benrahma, for the crunch tie with the Indomitable Lions. However, returning to the scene of their grave AFCON disappointment could prove a step too far emotionally and mentally for his side.

Qualification route

Mondher Kebaier-led Tunisia secured passage to the third round of qualification by claiming the top spot in Group B with 13 points. The Carthage Eagles won four, drew one, and lost one to finish ahead of Equatorial Guinea who had lost one more game than the North Africans.

Tunisia scored 11 goals and conceded only 2, keeping clean sheets in four of their six group games. Their biggest wins during this qualification round were two 3-0 victories at home against Equatorial Guinea (Matchday 1) and Mauritania (Matchday 3).

Topscorer

Saint-Etienne's Wahbi Khazri was Tunisia's top scorer in the second round of qualifying, netting three goals in six matches.

World Cup history

The Tunisian Eagles have been to the World Cup finals on five occasions, appearing first at the 1978 edition in Argentina. On all five occasions, Tunisia have not made it past the Group Stage.

Where are they now?

An AFCON quarter-final exit at the hands of Burkina Faso saw Kebaier get the boot, and former assistant Jalel Kadri take charge on an interim basis. He will need to better his predecessor's AFCON result against Mali (a 1-0 defeat) if he is to guide the Carthage Eagles to the sixth Mundial.

Qualification route

Three-time African champions Nigeria are also in contention for a slot in Qatar, topping Group C with 13 points ahead of Cape Verde on 11 points. The Super Eagles of Nigeria won four of their group games, registering one draw and one loss apiece.

Gernot Rohr's boys scored nine goals and conceded three in the second round of World Cup qualifying. Their biggest wins were the 2-0 victories over Liberia (both legs) and Central African Republic (away).

Topscorer

Napoli striker Victor Osimhen scored the most goals for Nigeria with four in six matches during the second round qualification phase.

World Cup history

The Super Eagles of Nigeria have made six appearances at the Mundial so far, debuting at the USA '94 edition. They got to the first knockout phase of that edition, with further Round-of-16 finishes at the France '98 and Brazil 2014 editions remaining their best outings so far.

Where are they now?

Under the leadership of Augustine Eguavoen, Nigeria burned brightly for a short time at the AFCON, only to flame out against Tunisia in the Round of 16. A bid to secure an expatriate manager afterward failed, and so the former defender has another chance to make a claim for the role on a permanent basis, and possibly lead the Super Eagles to the World Cup.

Qualification route

The Indomitable Lions of Cameroon had arguably the toughest journey to third-round qualification, being drawn in Group D with the star-studded Ivory Coast team. Antonio Conceicao's side were able to hold off the talented Ivorians in a straight shoot-out for the top spot. Cameroon secured qualification with a 1-0 home win over Ivory Coast on Matchday 6 in a winner-takes-all match.

Conceicao's side won five of their games and lost only one to finish with 15 points, two more points than Ivory Coast. Cameroon scored 12 goals in the second round of qualifying whilst conceding only three. Their biggest victory was a 4-0 away win at Malawi on Matchday 5.

Topscorer

Vincent Aboubakar, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui Karl Toko-Ekambi, and Christian Bassogog all tied on two goals for Cameroon in the second round of qualifying.

World Cup history

Cameroon have been to the World Cup finals on seven occasions, their first being in 1982. Italy 1990 was Cameroon's best outing at the Mundial, getting to the Quarterfinals before being defeated 3-2 by England.

Where are they now?

Despite a third-place finish at the AFCON, the Indomitable Lions opted for a change in the dugout, installing legendary former captain Rigobert Song as the new head coach. This will be a real baptism of fire for the 45-year-old, who has culled some of the underperformers in attack, but will have little time to impart much tactical nuance.

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