Image Source: Ahram
Now that things are getting a little closer to the end, we’re going to take a look at each team and evaluate their chances of qualifying. There will be teams that officially qualify on matchday 5. Here’s a look at how things are shaping up.
South Africa: The Bafana Bafana are top of Group A on 8 points. In matchday 5, they have the easiest match they’ll play all qualifying, hosting Sudan in Nelspruit. Obviously, the team is currently struggling with the terrible murder of goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa. A win will see them directly qualify. A draw and a Congo win or draw vs. Nigeria will also see them through.
Congo: Congo faces a tall task in Pointe-Noire. But they may yet qualify, as they are in a great position. They really just need to avoid a loss at home to Nigeria and they should be just about locked in. A draw at home v. Nigeria and any points from South Africa at home against Sudan will be enough to punch their ticket. A win will also see them qualify regardless of any other results.
Nigeria: In a very tough position and largely the reason we now see them on the outside looking in. As we indicated in the Congo section, if Nigeria is only able to manage a draw on the road, they could be locked into an at-best 3rd place finish should South Africa get any points. They simply must win. A draw would limit them to at most 8 points, and that may not be enough to qualify as the best 3rd place team.
Sudan: Fighting for their tournament lives. Sudan must pick up points at South Africa to remain in the hunt for Morocco. If they lose, they can finish at best 3rd in the group and may even be eliminated depending upon the Congo-Nigeria result. 6 points will not be enough to be the best 3rd place team. We don’t think they survive beyond Matchday 5.
Algeria: Perfect through 4 matches, Algeria has already qualified for the finals. They will look to keep their record perfect at home against Ethiopia and play the role of spoiler.
Mali: Currently in 2nd on 6 points, Mali has a chance to extend their lead in a tough road match at Malawi. They can even qualify directly if a couple things go their way. A win will see them through regardless of other results. A draw would also be enough to qualify if Ethiopia fails to defeat Algeria on the road, which is unlikely. So, a point should probably be good enough to advance.
Malawi: The Flames are in a critical spot at this juncture. Can be virtually eliminated from the tournament with a home loss to Mali. Could also be right in the battle for an automatic qualifier with a win. If Malawi does not defeat Mali and 3 teams from another Group (G) get to 7 points, that would spell the end for Malawi. Much at stake. Only 3 points through 4 matches.
Ethiopia: Not only is Ethiopia last in the group on 3 points, but they have to travel to Blida for the toughest match of the group. Ethiopia is barely alive as it is after bagging a winner at Mali in October in the 90th. In basically the same boat as Malawi elimination-wise, but they need help too. If Ethiopia gets less than a win, they’re in big trouble. If they win, they need Mali to drop points to have a chance to get back into it. Not looking good.
Gabon: This group features almost the exact same point totals as Group A. Consequently, the outcomes follow the same path. The Panthers simply need a draw at Angola to qualify for Morocco. But should they fail to pick up anything on the road, it will make for quite the interesting final matchday. The result of the other match is inconsequential here. Draw or win and through. Lose and in limbo.
Burkina Faso: We thought for sure Burkina would be in a much better position at this point, but it was not to be. They beat Lesotho at home, and now a win on the road would surely see Burkina through. They face Angola in their final match, so certainly would like to leave nothing to chance. A win and any Gabon points will be enough. A draw and Gabon win will also be enough.
Angola: This could be it for Angola. A team we initially projected to make the final field of 16 now is in almost a must-win to keep their hopes alive. It’s doable. Angola only lost 1-0 at Gabon, so in the return leg a similar scoreline could emerge. A loss and any Burkina points, however, would see their hopes relegated to best 3rd place team. Even a draw may ultimately not be enough.
Lesotho: In a world of hurt. Has to at least get something against Burkina Faso to stay alive. A loss will eliminate Lesotho. A draw also may eliminate Lesotho if a 3rd place team emerges with more than 7 points. Realistically, Lesotho has to get all 3 points to have any shot of qualifying.
Cameroon: The Indomitable Lions are now in the driver’s seat in Group D and need just a draw to qualify. They can also qualify with a Sierra Leone win over the Ivory Coast. Given that the last match is away to the Ivory Coast, Cameroon will surely want to seal up their spot against the Leopards of Congo DR. We give them over an 80% chance of locking that spot up.
Congo DR: Can qualify directly for the finals with a win in Cameroon and a Sierra Leone victory over the Ivory Coast. Unfortunately, we give that about a 1 in 73 chance of that happening. Congo DR can also not be eliminated no matter what happens. As a result, their fate is likely to be settled in the final matchday at home against Sierra Leone. They really would be best served to at least pick up something in Cameroon because Ivory Coast is likely to end up with 10 points. Certainly will have a shot to qualify as the best 3rd place team.
Ivory Coast: Would have been massive if they were able to hold off DR in Abidjan, but truth be told they really didn’t deserve to get anything from that match. A win over Sierra Leone is a must, as the final match with Cameroon will certainly be no pushover. Cannot qualify directly as Congo DR holds the tiebreaker. Also won’t be eliminated with a loss, as they would have a shot to be the best 3rd place team. We still like them to qualify, but this is a critical match.
Sierra Leone: On the brink of elimination. Only Botswana has a worse fate at this point. 5 points will not be enough to be the best 3rd place team, so a loss will eliminate Sierra Leone. In all likelihood, 7 points will not be enough to be the best 3rd place team even if they win their final 2. Must win to stay alive and get some help. We only give them about a 6% chance to survive past the Ivory Coast.
Ghana: Well this is certainly an exciting group. Despite surely thinking they should have more than 8 points at this stage, all will be forgotten if Ghana can qualify. 3 points will secure a spot at the finals. A draw, and Guinea failing to defeat Togo will be good enough as well. If Uganda can somehow defeat Ghana, this group will be thrown into disarray.
Togo: Not in as great a position as Ghana, but can also qualify with a win and a Ghana win or draw. A draw will not be enough to advance regardless of what happens in the other match. In great shape, but definitely need a result to stay in it. Also cannot be eliminated, but will be in far worse shape if they can’t get anything against Guinea.
Uganda: Was in great shape until they lost back to back matches against Togo. That really hurt, as Togo had 0 points prior to those two matches. While all is not lost, they still have to face Ghana and Guinea. Obviously cannot yet qualify, but they need to get something against Ghana to have a fighting chance. Will be eliminated with a loss and any Togo points. Will also be eliminated with a draw and Togo win.
Guinea: While it is a tall task ahead of Guinea, it is not unfathomable to think they qualify. Draw at Togo, defeat Uganda “at home” by 2+ goals, and Togo failing to win at Ghana will be enough. Despite being last in the group, they’re in a better position than Uganda. But they will also be eliminated if they come up empty handed. The other match is irrelevant at this point, but anything from Ghana will certainly help. Loss eliminates them. Points keep them alive.
|Cape Verde Islands||9||100.00%||0.00%||0.00%|
Cape Verde Islands: Have already qualified for the finals due to the tiebreak procedures. Can put Niger out of the tournament with a win.
Zambia/Mozambique: Arguably the match to watch in the whole tournament, which could be for a place in the finals. If Zambia wins the match, they will qualify for Morocco. If Mozambique wins the match, they need Niger to not win at Cape Verde to qualify. These are the only two teams that can either qualify, be in limbo, or be eliminated on this matchday. When these teams first met in Ndola, Zambia, they played to a 0-0 draw. It is imperative for Mozambique to keep Zambia off the scoresheet. A 1-1 draw would see Zambia own the tiebreaker. A 0-0 draw again would see Goal Difference as the first tiebreaker, with order TBD. It’s also important for both of these teams to get points with hope of being the best 3rd place team.
Niger: On their last legs. Niger NEEDS points at Cape Verde to stay alive. A draw and either team winning the Zambia/Mozambique match will also eliminate Niger. And lastly, if Zambia wins, Niger is out regardless. It’s not looking good. Expect Niger to be eliminated.
Tunisia: Close. Very close. Any points at Botswana will see Tunisia through. Can also qualify with a loss and either a Senegal or Egypt win. Only a loss and Senegal/Egypt draw will keep them in limbo. Even if Tunisia loses their final 2 games, 10 points may be enough to be the best 3rd place team. We think they’ll get the job done in Botswana and leave nothing to chance.
Senegal: A classic matchup. We had this group pegged as the most difficult from the start, and sure enough here we are with a high qualify game. Senegal can qualify directly with a win at Egypt. While a loss will hurt, it’s still not the end of the road for them. But picking up any points at Egypt would be huge, as they host Botswana in their final match. Win and in. Any other result and in limbo.
Egypt: This is the match where Egypt needs to take charge and come away with 3 points on home soil. It’s massive. And even more important, getting to 9 points would go a long way towards qualifying as the best 3rd place team should they lose at Tunisia in the final match. Anything less than a victory could be pretty damaging, but the 23.11% chance of being “eliminated” is strictly from direct qualification. Should still be alive for best 3rd place team regardless.
Botswana: The only team officially eliminated. It’s really not Botswana’s fault. Being placed in this group is very, very unfortunate. Good luck against Tunisia.