The African line-up for the 2022 Qatar FIFA World Cup has been concluded with the return leg matches of the play-off round completed in sensational and exciting fashion on Tuesday, March 29, 2022.
African champions, Senegal, headline the five African countries to proceed to the World Cup, alongside Morocco, Ghana, Tunisia and Cameroon. Two of the five matches travelled to extra time, whilst two countries booked their tickets via the away goal rule.
Nigeria 1-1 Ghana (1-1 on aggregate)
Ghana qualified for its fourth World Cup after edging out arch-rivals, Nigeria, on the away goal rule following a 1-1 draw in Abuja. The two sides drew 0-0 in the first leg in Kumasi last week and heading into the return fixture, the Ghanaians only needed a scoring draw to progress.
The Black Stars did not disappoint this time around, as they did exactly that, qualifying for the World Cup after missing the 2018 showpiece in Russia. For Nigeria, this is the first time it will be missing the World Cup since 2006.
“I’m really delighted, exhausted, it was a tough match and we fought our way through”, Black Stars’ Coach, Otto Addo, said in a post-match interview. Otto Addo added that “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”.
Arsenal midfielder and captain of the Black Stars, Thomas Partey, gave Ghana an 11th minute lead before William Troost Ekong levelled for the Super Eagles in the 22nd minute.
Partey broke the deadlock with a sleek shot from the edge of the box with keeper Francis Uzoho seeing the ball sneak between his body and the ground, a dream start for the visitors.
Nigeria fought hard to get the equalizer through a 22nd minute penalty awarded after a lengthy VAR check. Ademola Lookman was clipped inside the box by Dennis Odoi and Ekong stepped up to score and put Nigeria firmly back in contention.
The Super Eagles thought they had grabbed the lead in the 34th minute but Victor Osimhen was flagged down for offside and the decision was confirmed by VAR. In the second half, Ghana managed to soak in the pressure from Nigeria and saw off the result after 90 minutes.
Senegal 1-0 Egypt (1-1 on aggregate, 3-1 on penalties)
For the second time in 3 months, Senegal edged out Egypt on penalties. Having beaten the Pharaohs on spot kicks to clinch their first TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations title, the Lions of Teranga repeated the same feat, this time to seal a place in the World Cup.
Once again, it was Sadio Mane who scored the decisive kick as Senegal progressed to the World Cup for the third time in their history.
In regulation time, Senegal scored in the fourth minute, just about the same time Egypt scored in the first leg. A 1-0 scoreline after 90 minutes, prompted an additional 30 minutes which failed to produce any goal, forcing the winner to be decided on penalties.
Morocco 4-1 DR Congo (5-2 on aggregate)
Elsewhere, the Atlas Lions of Morocco were in emphatic form against the Congolese at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca, winning 4-1 on the night and 5-2 on aggregate to sail into their sixth World Cup appearance.
Azzedine Ounahi scored a brace with Tarik Tissoudali and Achraf Hakimi adding one each to the massive victory. Ben Malango scored DR Congo’s consolation, but it was mere statistic as the Moroccans sailed through with ease.
Algeria 1-2 Cameroon (2-2 on aggregate)
Karl Toko Ekambi swept home perhaps, the most important goal of his career, scoring in the fourth minute of added time as Cameroon beat Algeria 2-1 in Blida to qualify for its eighth FIFA World Cup.
The two teams played to a 2-2 aggregate score, but Cameroon qualify to Qatar on the away goal rule. Algeria scored two minutes to the end when Ahmed Touba headed home Rachid Ghezzal’s corner, but the Indomitable Lions had the last laugh, as Ekambi swept the ball home inside the box with just seconds left on the clock. It was massive heartbreak for Algeria with their coach Djabel Belmadi sinking to the turf after the fulltime whistle as he saw the ticket to Qatar snatched by the visitors.
Tunisia 0 – 0 Mali (1-0 on aggregate)
Elsewhere, Tunisia completed the roster of five for African teams to Qatar despite being held to a 0-0 draw by Mali at home. The 1-0 victory in Bamako last week proved vital, as the Carthage Eagles fly to their sixth World Cup appearance. The draw for the 2022 FIFA World Cup is slated for Friday, April 1, 2022.
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