Nigeria’s Super Eagles face Ghana in the 2022 World Cup final

Nigeria, the best performers so far in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, were paired with arch-rivals Ghana in the play-offs for the Africa Cup of Nations in Douala on Saturday.

Ghana will have a home advantage first and both matches will be played between 21 and 29 March with the overall winners securing a place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Egypt meets Senegal, Cameroon meets Algeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo plays Morocco and Mali meets Tunisia in the other bands.

Only Mali among the 10 challengers has never qualified for the world football showpiece while Cameroon holds the record for appearances by an African team of seven between 1982 and 2014.

Nigeria brushed off a troubled prelude to the Cup of Nations, including the sacking of German coach Gernot Rohr, to be the only team among the 24 in Cameroon to win all three group matches.

While the Super Eagles are looking forward to a 16-game final with Tunisia on Sunday, Ghana were shock losses in the first round, finishing at the bottom of a group after a stunning 3-2 loss to the Minnows Comoros.

Serbian-born Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac, who guided the Black Stars to the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup, insisted he would not resign after the humiliating loss.

“My primary ambition since I took over as coach in October last year was to qualify Ghana for the World Cup in Qatar,” he said, amid rumors that he was facing dismissal.

The World Cup qualifier Nigeria is trying to qualify for the World Cup for the seventh time and has since 1994 only missed one of seven editions. The last of three appearances by Ghana was in 2014.

Algeria, the defending champions and shockingly early defectors from the tournament, will face Cameroon, another formative team with captain Vincent Aboubakar who scores five points in three group games.

After going 35 undefeated since last 2018, Algeria lost to Equatorial Guinea and were then played off the Ivory Coast to make an embarrassingly early exit.

Egypt boss Carlos Queiroz is another coach who insists his priority is the World Cup, saying that “the main goal when I signed up was to qualify for the 2022 World Cup”.

Mali will enjoy their chances of a historic first appearance in the final after defeating Tunisia in Cameroon last week through an Ibrahima Kone penalty.

(AFP)

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