Egypt’s Pot 1 Hopes: Much at stake ahead of Guinea World Cup qualifier
With only 3 weeks remaining until Egypt meets Guinea in their final second round CAF World Cup qualifier, Brandon Riff of WeGlobalFootball.com – rankings, predictions and insights on all things international football – examines Egypt’s final hopes of reaching Pot 1.
Despite having already clinched a spot in the Final 10, there is still much at stake for Egypt on September 10th. Since the beginning of July, Egypt’s chances of reaching Pot 1 and avoiding African heavyweights in the final round have increased dramatically due in large part to missteps by Cameroon and Libya.
As more friendlies have been played, the picture has become clearer about who will end up where. For purposes of Egypt’s Pot 1 chances, things are easier to digest at a high level. There are a few things that are certain as of today, August 21st.
- Ivory Coast is through to the final round and will be in Pot 1.
- Algeria is through to the final round and will be in Pot 1.
- The Group J Winner (Senegal or Uganda) will be in Pot 2.
That is all that is guaranteed as of today. There are a few more things that seem highly likely to happen:
It is logical to believe Ghana advances as they host Zambia. For Zambia to advance, and we give them about a 6% chance of doing so, they would need to defeat Ghana on their home soil.
It is also reasonable to believe Nigeria advances as they host Malawi. Likewise for Malawi, they need a victory away from home in an extremely tough environment. We believe Malawi has about a 1 in 100 chance of advancing.
If both Ghana and Nigeria advance, the following would be certain:
- Ghana is through to the final round and will be in Pot 1.
- Nigeria is through to the final round and will be in Pot 1.
- The Group A Winner (Ethiopia, South Africa, or Botswana) will be in Pot 2.
- The Group I Winner (Cameroon or Libya) will be in Pot 2.
This is a pretty big update from the analysis done in the middle of July. At that time Egypt was facing a massive challenge to get past either Cameroon or Libya. So what changed?
Cameroon’s suspension was lifted, and they chose to re-enter the African Nations Championship qualification. As a result of playing (and losing) against Gabon, they’ve reduced their maximum September points from 663 to 595. In fact, Gabon protested Cameroon’s re-entry to no avail. Cameroon may have chosen the African Nations Championship over the World Cup.
Libya has scheduled and lost friendlies which have reduced their maximum point total from 620 to 569. The maximum points from the Group I team advancing is Cameroon’s 595, which is less than Egypt would have should they defeat Guinea. This is a huge positive development.
With 7 places defined above, only 3 remain. There would be 1 spot in Pot 1 and 2 spots in Pot 2 to be claimed.
With no friendlies currently scheduled, a victory from Egypt would give them 610 points in the September rankings. This total would need to be ahead of both the Group B winner and Group E winner to get into Pot 1.
The first obstacle is getting ahead of Burkina Faso out of Group E. If Burkina Faso defeats Gabon at home, they’ll have 628 points and be ahead of Egypt. But they are currently behind Congo, who is at Niger. We give Burkina Faso less than a 50% chance of advancing. If Congo or Gabon advances, Egypt would be ahead of them.
The second, and probably most important obstacle, is getting ahead of the Group B winner. Cape Verde was brought back to life and can still reach Pot 1. Tunisia and Cape Verde Islands will face each other on September 7th. If Tunisia wins they will have 643 points and be ahead of Egypt. If Cape Verde wins, they’ll have 739 points and be ahead of Egypt. The only scenario under which Egypt can pass both teams is if they draw. Under that scenario, Tunisia would have 601 points and advance to Pot 2. We believe there is about a 25% chance of a draw in this match.
It is critical for Egypt to remain above 601 points (the minimum from the advancing Group B team) to stay alive for Pot 1. Egypt has been rumored to be playing a friendly against numerous teams on September 6th, and this is an idea that should be reconsidered. Potential opponents include Kenya, Tanzania, Congo, Madagascar, Canada, and Iraq. Even defeating Madagascar would drop Egypt below 601 points. If they were to draw against any of the other nations, they would also fall below 601 points.
It is not worth it to play a friendly match at this point.
Egypt can’t get to Burkina Faso’s 628 points or Tunisia’s 643 points, so there is absolutely nothing to be gained from playing a friendly. The only thing that can happen as a result is missing out on Pot 1. Cameroon decided to play too many matches and eliminated themselves from Pot 1 contention. They’ll now likely face one of Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, or Algeria. Egypt, who will be starting a closed camp on September 1st, is best suited to avoid that fate by just standing pat and taking care of business against Guinea.
Getting into Pot 1 would significantly improve Egypt’s chances of qualifying for the World Cup, and they should do everything necessary to make that happen. At this point, the best thing to do is simply do nothing.
Photo credit: (AP/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
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