Nigeria Super Eagles after putting on a masterclass against Cameroon Credit: Nigeria Super Eagles
[/media-credit] Action from Cameroon vs Gabon in the 2017 Afcon Credit: © Kawowo Sports | AMINAH BABIRYE

The qualifying process for the 2018 World Cup, which began on March 12, 2015, is reaching its climax.

So far, eight nations have booked their place to join host nation Russia at next year’s tournament but none from Africa.

Belgium, Brazil, Iran, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea join hosts Russia as confirmed teams so far for the biggest football showpiece in the world.

With two rounds of group stage games remaining, Africa is yet to have a team qualify for the finals.

Background

Round One: The 26 lowest ranked nations played two-legged ties, played in October 2015 with 13 teams qualifying for the second round.

Winners: Botswana, Burundi, Chad, Comoros, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Namibia, Niger, Swaziland and Tanzania

Round Two: The 13 winners from the first round and the remaining top 27 African nations to make 40 teams playing two-legged ties.

Winners: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo, DR Congo, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Libya, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia.

The Group Stages

The 20 winners from the second round were drawn into five groups of four nations and group winners will qualify for the finals.

The final round began in October 2016 and runs until November 2017.

Group A: Congo DR, Guinea, Libya, Tunisia

[/media-credit] DR Congo Credit: Courtesy Photo

Guinea and Libya are mathematically out the equation as they remain on 3 points, 7 points adrift of leaders Tunisia with only six points available.

The battle remains between the Carthage Eagles and the Leopards and if Tunisia pick at least three points from the available six, they will be in Russia.

DR Congo’s fate isn’t entirely in their hands and must hope Tunisia slip up with a loss.

Group B: Algeria, Cameroon, Nigeria, Zambia

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In arguably the group of death, former quarter finalists Cameroon and giants Algeria have no chance.

Nigeria, group toppers with 10 points, three more than Zambia must pick three points off Algeria in their next game and hope Zambia falters at home to the Indomitable Lions.

If both win, then the Super Eagles will target a draw against the Chipolopolo to book a place in Russia.

Group C: Ivory Coast, Gabon, Mali, Morocco

One of the two tightest groups as each of the four teams still within reach of the summit.

Ivory Coast top the group with just seven points while Mali are bottom with only five points separating them yet six remain available.

The next group games on the weekend of October 6-7, 2017 will be do or die for any team but depending on results, it may go down to the wire.

Group D: Burkina Faso, Cape Verde Islands, Senegal, South Africa

The difference between log leaders Burkina Faso and bottom side South Africa remains just two points with six to fight for.

Another tight group that may go down to the wire and it’s very hard to even offer any side a favourite tag.

Group E: Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Uganda

[/media-credit] Egypt starting XI vs Uganda Cranes at AFCON 2017 Credit: © Kawowo Sports | AMINAH BABIRYE

Congo Brazzaville is the only nation in the group with no chance as Ghana and Uganda also hope log leaders Egypt falter.

Uganda must win their remaining games but that may not be enough as well if Egypt match them.

For Ghana, only Congo edging Egypt in Alexandria will give them chance to reach Russia.

Senior Staff writer at Kawowo Sports mainly covering football

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