The countries that will have their flags flying at the 2022 World Cup have become clearer within the last FIFA dates in 2021.
In Africa, four-time Nations Cup champions and three-time World Cup contestants, Ghana, suffered a slip last Thursday away to Ethiopia, where they managed a 1-1 draw. The Black Stars took the lead in the first half through Andre Ayew but were pegged back by an equaliser from Getaneh Kebede in the 72nd minute. That gave the impetus to South Africa who beat Zimbabwe 1-0 to stretch out their lead in Group G to three points and a two-goal advantage.
The last match in the series will see South Africa travel to Cape Coast on Sunday in need of a draw to qualify for the last set of qualifiers in March 2022. The Bafana Bafana won the corresponding fixture 1-0. The Black Stars will qualify only if they beat Bafana by at least 2-0.
Also in Africa, next Tuesday in Yaounde, Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions will fight to overtake the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in Group D. The Lions trail the Elephants by a point in what has become a winner take all contest.
In South America, five-time champions, Brazil booked their place in Qatar with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Colombia while Argentina moved closer with a 1-0 victory over Uruguay. On Tuesday, both countries will meet at the Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario, San Juan with Brazil yet to lose in the qualifiers.
In Europe, reigning world champions France trounced Kazakhstan 8-0 to qualify for the defence of their title with one game to spare; the first time France have done so since 1981. Kylian Mbappe scored a first-half hattrick and added his fourth and France’s eight in the 87th minute.
FIFA’s No.1 ranked team, Belgium, also qualified with a game to spare with a 3-1 win over Estonia. They join Denmark, who finally conceded a goal in the qualifiers, against the Faroe Islands, and Germany who thrashed Liechtenstein 9-0. Finland, Scotland, and Wales booked play-off slots.
Over in North America, the USA needed two second-half goals to beat Mexico and take over the leadership of the qualifying group. The Americans will hope to keep the results coming to assuage their missing out of the Mundial in 2018.
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