The draws for African teams for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in the United States, Canada, and Mexico have been released. For the first time, the continent will be represented by at least nine countries, divided into nine groups of six. As a result of the FiFA’s new competition format, this has occurred.
Congo Brazzaville, Tanzania, Niger, and Eritrea complete Group E following a draw done by former African players on Thursday in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast’s commercial hub.
Morocco became the first African or Arab country to reach the World Cup semi-finals in Qatar in December, where they were defeated by France and ended fourth.
With European stars like Yassine Bounou, Achraf Hakimi, Sofyan Amrabat, and Youssef en-Nesyri available, they appear to be the section’s favorites, with Zambia providing the greatest threat.
Morocco is the highest-ranked African team in the new FIFA rankings, ahead of Cup of Nations champions Senegal and Tunisia.
Senegal is in Group B, and the most likely threat to them will be the fast-improving Democratic Republic of the Congo, which played in the 1974 World Cup as Zaire.
Senegal, like Morocco, is aiming for a third consecutive trip at the four-yearly global showcase, with the next edition scheduled for mid-2026.
Tunisia is in Group H with Equatorial Guinea, a rising African force that defeated Tunisia in a Cup of Nations qualifier last month.
Long-time rivals Nigeria and South Africa will face off in Group C, which also includes Zimbabwe, which was released from FIFA’s suspension for government influence in football two days ago.
Ghana, which crashed out of the World Cup in Qatar, will enjoy their chances of finishing top in Group I, ahead of Mali, the only other first seed who did not qualify.
Cameroon is in trouble.
Cameroon, who holds the African record for World Cup qualification with eight appearances, has struggled in recent Cup of Nations matches, giving Cape Verde and Angola optimism in Group D.
Algeria, who fell to Cameroon for a place in Qatar, appears to be the likely winner of Group G, with Guinea expected to be the primary contender.
Another country that will be pleased with the draw is Ivory Coast, which will host the next Cup of Nations in January and February 2024.
The biggest challenge to the three-time World Cup qualifiers may come from Gambia, not second-seeded Gabon.
Egypt had a record seven Cup of Nations titles, although they frequently fail to qualify for the World Cup, reaching the final only three times.
They are in Group A, where Burkina Faso and Guinea-Bissau could cause problems for the Pharaohs led by Mohamed Salah.
With the number of finalists rising from 32 in Qatar to 48 in North and Central America, Africa is certain of a record nine, and possibly ten, spots.
Each group winner will automatically qualify, and the top four runners-up will compete in play-offs, with the winner advancing to inter-confederation play-offs, where two places are up for grabs.
Aside from an African team, the confederation play-offs will feature two teams from North/Central America, one from Asia, one from South America, and one from Oceania.
Matchdays one and two will be held in Africa this November, followed by two more rounds the following year and six in 2025.