SuperSport viewers on DStv and GOtv will be counting down the days to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, with the tournament set to run from 21 November to 18 December and provide the most thrilling distillation of ‘The Beautiful Game’.
The big news in African football last week was the confirmation of the five teams which will represent the continent at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon, Morocco and Tunisia secured their tickets to the global tournament.
The Black Stars overcame arch rivals Nigeria on away goals (after a 1-1 draw on aggregate) to secure a fourth overall qualification – adding to their previous appearances in 2006, 2010 and 2014.
“I’m really delighted, exhausted, it was a tough match and we fought our way through,” said Ghana coach Otto Addo. “We had big big problems especially in the first half, and through some changes, the players gave their tactics very well and still they [the Nigerians] had some good chances. Our goalkeeper was there when we needed him and we had a little bit of luck also, because if you see the chances the Nigerians were better. I feel a bit pity for them but this is football, sometimes and we fought our way through.”
Senegal continued to have the wood over Egypt, as they ousted the North Africans on penalties after a 1-1 aggregate draw – just as they did in the final of the African Cup of Nations earlier this year. The Teranga Lions will be appearing at the World Cup for a third time, adding to 2002 and 2018.
Tunisia and Morocco overcame Mali (1-0 on aggregate) and DR Congo (5-2 on aggregate) to each seal their sixth World Cup appearance: 1978, 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2018 for the Carthage Eagles, while the Atlas Lions played the global event in 1970, 1986, 1994, 1998 and 2018.
The most dramatic qualification came from Cameroon, who scored through Karl Toko Ekambi deep in injury time after 120 minutes in Blida to defeat Algeria 2-1, with the tie ending 2-2 on aggregate and sending the Indomitable Lions to the World Cup on the away goal rule.
Cameroon have thus extended their record as the African team with the most successful World Cup qualification campaigns, as 2022 will be their eighth showing at the finals, adding to 1982, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014.
“I would like to congratulate both teams for this game, and my players who showed that they were indomitable,” said coach Rigobert Song. “In the first game, we were put in difficulty by a defensive team which prevented the players from expressing themselves offensively. [In the second leg], we knew how to work against that with a two-forward system.”
Match-winner Toko Ekambi added, “These kind of matches between two teams are played on the details. Algeria lacked efficiency and we were able to take advantage of this set piece. I thank Algeria for its warm welcome. I think high-level players have to adapt to coach changes by taking into account his advice and his mental input.”