Mohamed Salah

Egypt's forward Mohamed Salah (right) and Egypt's midfielder Mahmoud 'Trezeguet' Hassan celebrate their opening goal during their 2022 Qatar World Cup African Qualifiers match against Senegal at Cairo International Stadium in the Egyptian capital on March 25, 2022.

| Khaled Desouki | AFP

World Cup qualifiers: Moment of truth for Africa’s football giants

What you need to know:

  • In other games, Morocco will invite DR Congo at the Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca after a one-all stalemate in Kinshasa.
  • Substitute Tarik Tissoudali scored with 14 minutes to go to earn Morocco the impressive result after Yoanne Wisas had given the hosts a deserved first-half lead at the Stade de Martys.

Harambee Stars ex-captain Musa Otieno is backing Nigeria and Egypt to lead Africa's contingent at the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar.

Five African teams that will play at the 32-nation global sporting showpiece in November will be known at the end of the qualification campaign on Tuesday night, after highly billed matches consisting of the continent's bigwigs are played in North and West Africa.

In Abuja, hosts Nigeria welcome neighbours and rivals Ghana at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in what promises to be an explosive and evenly poised tie.

The importance of this clash was highlighted last evening when Abuja Senator Orji Uzor Kalu purchased 5,000 tickets at an estimated cost of Sh6 million shillings, and offered them to interested fans who wished to watch the game.

“As an African Pillar of Sports, I look forward to the Eagles putting smiles on our faces by winning the match,” said the politician, who represents the Abia North senate district at the National Assembly.

He made the announcement on his Facebook page as reported by the Punch.

These two sides played out to a barren draw in the first leg at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi on Friday and the Kenya ex-international, who earned 90 caps for Kenya in an impressive 16-year spell, tips the hosts to tip the scale.

"Nigeria have done half of the job," said Otieno, who faced the Super Eagles twice in this tournament in 1997.

"That result in Kumasi (on Friday) was crucial for Nigeria because they rarely lose at home. Both teams are experienced and have abundance of talent so the finer details such as the home ground will be crucial. The Super Eagles know how to win such games."

Nigeria are gunning for a seventh appearance at the World Cup, while Ghana’s Black Stars boast three appearances in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

Nigeria coach Augustine Egauvoen will likely rely on custodian Daniel Akpeyi, who had a good game in Kumasi, to guard the goal and hopefully maintain another clean sheet.

Watford defender Kenneth Omeruo will marshall the rearguard, while Jo Aribo and Victor Ominshen should be the men to watch in midfield and attack respectively.

Otieno, 47, now a respected football pundit for Pan-African broadcaster SuperSport and assistant coach of Kenyan top-flight side Police FC, is also backing Algeria to dispense with Cameroon in another qualification match.

Cameroon lost 1-0 to the Desert Warriors at the Japoma Omnisports stadium in Douala in the first leg tie and have to score at least once in this rematch in Algiers to stand a chance at qualification.

Despite the loss, the Indomitable Lions appeared dominant in the game and created a few half chances in the opening half hour.

But Algeria, formerly African champions, sat deep and secured the crucial goal via Islam Slimani’s header off a Youcef Belaili cross.

Rihard Mahrez is among the players to watch in the return leg, same as Ajax keeper Andre Onana and forward Vincent Aboubacker for Cameroon.

"It's a tall order for Cameroon, I don't see a way back for them to be honest."

"I'm excited the new Cameroon FA (Football Association) boss Samuel Eto'o appointed Rigobert Song (an ex-international) to coach the team but I think that appointment came too late for this match. I don't know why the former coach (read Portuguese Antonio Conceicao) had to leave the job after an impressive Africa Nations Cup. That is their undoing."

Egypt also beat Senegal 1-0 via an Saliou Ciss own goal in the opening minutes in Cairo and Otieno, who played for top clubs in South Africa for close to a decade, believes the Pharaohs will complete the job.

"The North African teams are dominating this competition. Egypt are capable of soaking in all the pressure and are also masters of the counter attack. This style will suit them in Dakar against a strong Senegal team."

In other games, Morocco will invite DR Congo at the Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca after a one-all stalemate in Kinshasa.

Substitute Tarik Tissoudali scored with 14 minutes to go to earn Morocco the impressive result after Yoanne Wisas had given the hosts a deserved first-half lead at the Stade de Martys.

Tunisia, meanwhile, will defend a 1-0 lead versus visiting Mali at the Stade Hammadi Agrebi in Tunis.

Moussa Sissoko scored in his own net to the benefit of the visiting North Africans, but Mali, who played for a majority of this match with 10 men, have it all to do in the return leg.

The 2022 Fifa World Cup, the 22nd edition of the quadrennial football spectacle, will be held between November 21 and December 18.

African World Cup playoffs first leg results on Friday:

In Cairo: Egypt 1 (Ciss 4-og) Senegal 0
In Kumasi, Ghana: Ghana 0 Nigeria 0
In Douala, Cameroon: Cameroon 0 Algeria 1 (Slimani 40)
In Bamako: Mali 0 Tunisia 1 (Sissako 36-og)
In Kinshasa: Democratic Republic of Congo 1 (Wissa 12) Morocco 1 (Tissoudali 76)

Second legs: March 29

Note: Five aggregate winners qualify for World Cup in Qatar from Nov 21 to Dec 18.

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