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World Cup Qualifying: Egypt’s hopes of reaching Pot 1
With August international friendlies set to kick-off within the next two weeks, and the conclusion of the Group Stage in CAF to follow in September, Brandon Riff of WeGlobalFootball.com – rankings, predictions and insights on all things international football – brings us up to speed with how things have changed in the African continent ahead of the final round of World Cup qualifying.
When the final 10 teams are determined, the top 5 teams according to the September FIFA Rankings will be placed into Pot 1, while the bottom 5 teams will be placed into Pot 2. A Pot 1 team will be drawn against a Pot 2 team to play 5 home-and-away matches to determine the 5 teams which progress to Brazil 2014.
Ivory Coast, Algeria, Ghana and Nigeria are likely to be the top 4 ranked qualified teams in Africa come September based on final matchups and current standings, with only the latter two yet to officially clinch a spot in the final round, leaving one spot remaining in Pot 1.
When the August FIFA Rankings are released, the relevant CAF nations will look like this:
Ivory Coast: 18
Burkina Faso: 48
South Africa: 67
The landscape has changed slightly in CAF with the inevitable scheduling of August friendlies. Here’s how things have changed:
Some folks in the Libya camp may be aware of the possibility of reaching Pot 1, but they certainly do not have a mathematical person recommending friendlies. Since this article’s release, Libya has scheduled friendlies against both Oman and Jordan. Unfortunately for them, there is absolutely NOTHING to be gained from these matches. At best, they end up in the same position they’re currently in. At worst, they cost themselves a shot at reaching Pot 1. Before scheduling these matches, they needed one road win to reach 620 points. They now need 3 road wins to reach the same total. Someone in the Libya Football Federation should be fired immediately.
With the ban on Cameroon football lifted, the Indomitable Lions are back in play. Again, there are curious decisions coming out of this nation. Cameroon chose to re-enter CHAN 2014 Qualification despite Gabon’s protests. Gabon gave them an out, yet Cameroon is back to hurt their own chances. From a realistic perspective, the only nation affected by these matches being played is Tunisia as they can now pass Cameroon if each wins their September qualifier. If the goal of this federation is to reach Brazil, again someone should be fired.
There is really not much to say about Tunisia other than they keep digging their own hole even deeper. They’ve scheduled a friendly with Congo which hurts them regardless of result. If they defeat Congo and Cape Verde, they’ll have 3 fewer points than we had originally projected. While this seems minor, it’s a massive failure on the part of Tunisia, which we’ll see shortly.
Perhaps Bob Bradley got wind of this article, but finally somebody made the right decision. Egypt has scheduled a friendly against Mali for August 14. It’s a must-win game that presents tremendous opportunity. If Egypt can win that match and the Guinea qualifier, they’ll bump their point total by 12 with a maximum of 617 points. Why is this important? 617 is now higher than a Tunisia draw against Cape Verde, and it also will be higher than Libya if they fail to win all 3 scheduled matches. Egypt NEEDED to schedule a team high up in the August FIFA Rankings and they delivered, as Mali will be an impressive #32.
Kudos to Coach Bradley for not sitting back and going for Pot 1. The path has become a little bit clearer for Egypt, which is exciting. Win both matches, a Tunisia draw vs. Cape Verde Islands, and anything less than a Cameroon victory over Libya should be enough to get Egypt into Pot 1. While the odds are still against Egypt, they have certainly improved in the past two weeks.
UPDATE (August 3, 2013): The EFA has confirmed Egypt will play Uganda instead of Mali on August 14. Mali seemed reluctant to travel to Egypt after the FA changed the venue from Casablanca to Gouna. This friendly with Uganda will leave Egypt in a similar situation as Libya, with nothing to be gained from this match in terms of FIFA Rankings, even with a win.
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