Morocco get kind draw in Africa qualifiers for 2026 World Cup



Fri, 14 Jul 2023 - 11:07 GMT


Fri, 14 Jul 2023 - 11:07 GMT

Morocco team huddle before the match REUTERS/Juan Medina/File Photo

Morocco team huddle before the match REUTERS/Juan Medina/File Photo

(Reuters) - World Cup semi-finalists Morocco have been handed a gentle path to the 2026 tournament in the United States, Mexico and Canada after the draw was made for the African qualifiers in Abidjan on Thursday.


The top team in each of the nine groups, which each contain six countries, qualify automatically for the World Cup.


The four best runners-up will enter an African playoff stage, where the winners will feature in the inter-confederation playoffs to be held in March 2026.


It means Africa is guaranteed nine places at the expanded 48-team finals, with a 10th side possibly added via the playoffs.


Morocco have been drawn with Zambia, Congo-Brazzaville, Tanzania, Niger and Eritrea, and will be heavy favourites to finish top of the pool.


They had a thrilling run to the World Cup semi-finals in Qatar last year, the first African side ever to make it to that stage of the global tournament, and finished in fourth place.


African champions Senegal face a tougher road with Democratic Republic of Congo in their group and a potentially tricky away day in Mauritania. They also meet 2006 World Cup finalists Togo and the duo of Sudan and South Sudan.


Nigeria and South Africa may each be wincing at their draw after being paired together, along with Benin, Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Lesotho. Nigeria and South Africa have a long-standing bitter rivalry and will not fancy facing each other.


There is also a mighty west African clash in Group I as Mali and Ghana meet. They must also play tricky Madagascar, Central African Republic, Comoros and Chad.


Tunisia have been to five of the last seven World Cups and will fancy their chances again with an easy looking draw. They meet Equatorial Guinea, Namibia, Malawi, Liberia and Sao Tome e Principe. There should be few alarms for them.


Algeria missed out on the 2022 finals in heartbreaking fashion with a last-gasp playoff loss to Cameroon, but will be confident of getting it right first time as they clash with Guinea, Uganda, Mozambique, Botswana and Somalia.


The first two match days in the groups will be played on Nov. 13-21, 2023 and the last two on Oct. 6-14, 2025. The African playoff stage is scheduled for Nov. 10-18, 2025.


Africa World Cup qualifying groups:


Group A: Egypt, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Djibouti


Group B: Senegal, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritania, Togo, Sudan, South Sudan


Group C: Nigeria, South Africa, Benin, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Lesotho


Group D: Cameroon, Cape Verde, Angola, Libya, Eswatini, Mauritius


Group E: Morocco, Zambia, Congo, Tanzania, Niger, Eritrea


Group F: Ivory Coast, Gabon, Kenya, The Gambia, Burundi, Seychelles


Group G: Algeria, Guinea, Uganda, Mozambique, Botswana, Somalia


Group H: Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Namibia, Malawi, Liberia, Sao Tome e Principe


Group I: Mali, Ghana, Madagascar, Central African Republic, Comoros, Chad.



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