The final round of Africa’s qualifying matches for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar are set to get underway this week with ten thrilling clashes.
The final playoff games will see ten countries vying for the continent’s five slots at the World Cup to be played in Qatar later this year.
It promises to be thrilling as the continent’s heavyweights come up against each other in two-legged matches to decide which sides qualify for the global competition.
The highlight of the matches will be between TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations finalists Senegal and Egyptas well as the clash between long-standing arch-rivals Ghana and Nigeria.
Cameroon will take on Algeria in another fiery encounter, Mali play Tunisia in a tricky tie while DR Congo clash with Morocco.
The matches are expected to be fiery thanks to the presence of some of the world’s best footballers in all the sides that will play in the final round of qualifiers.
With the qualifiers starting just hours away, CAFOnline.com selects ten of the players expected to shine on the path to Qatar 2022.
- Algeria – Riyad Mahrez
The Desert Foxes will be relying on the Manchester City winger Mahrez to weave the magic against their tough opponents Cameroon to qualify for Qatar. Algeria, who were winners of the 2019 TotalEnergies, were unimpressive when defending their title last month and were eliminated at the group stage. They are hoping to appease their fans and with Mahrez in the squad the Foxes are confident he would replicate the form that has seen him score 22 goals in all competitions for the English giants so far this season. The winger, who can also play in attack, was instrumental when Leicester City won the English Premier League title for the first time in the 2018/2019 season. He has since moved to Manchester City where has also bagged several titles.
- Cameroon – Vincent Aboubakar
The Indomitable Lions will be counting on the ingenuity of the Saudi Arabia-based striker who has led the side with aplomb in recent games. The attacker, who has so far scored eight times for Al Nassr in 22 outings, was instrumental in when Cameroon finished third at the country’s recent hosting of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations. With eight goals in seven matches, Aboubakar was the top scorer of the AFCON and made the Team of the Tournament. He must be at his best for Cameroon to be able to defeat the wounded Algerians in their two-legged matches.
- DR Congo – Theo Bongonda
DR Congo are chasing their first World Cup appearance in 48 years with their first and only showing being in the 1974 competition when they were known as Zaire.
The Belgium-born player is widely seen as the man to steer the side to the World Cup against Morocco who have been impressive in their qualifiers.
Despite the presence of top players like Chancel Mbemba, Bongonda is the new favourite of the side having switched nationality from Belgium to play for the country of his father.
The speedy player, who has scored ten goals for Genk in the Belgian top-flight this season, will add to the already strong attacking force of the Congolese.
- Egypt – Mohamed Salah
The eagerly-awaited rematch between AFCON finalists Senegal and Egypt requires big-name players and Salah is certainly among the best in the world.
The Liverpool superstar is seeking to appease the teeming fans of the Pharaohs who are still reeling from the pain of losing the final to this week’s opponent just last month.
- Ghana – Thomas Partey
In the absence of suspended captain Andre Ayew, Partey replaced the Al Sadd playmaker as the most influential Black Stars player.
The Arsenal star has seen some revival in his fortunes with the English side who named their Player of the Month for February.
The former Atletico Madrid has scored ten goals in 27 appearances for the Black Stars demonstrating his importance for the four-time African champions.
- Mali – Yves Bissouma
The return of Yves Bissouma to the Mali national team has injected some confidence among the players that they can defeat Tunisia to make their first appearance at the World Cup.
The England-based midfielder returned to the Eagles squad after a three-year absence to help steer them to the knock-out stages of the recent Africa Cup of Nations.
- Morocco – Achraf Hakimi
The Paris St Germain defender has not only been one of the outstanding players for the French sides, he has also been phenomenal for Morocco in their recent successes.
- Nigeria – Victor Osimhen
Moses Simon was the toast of the Super Eagles fans during the recent AFCON, but that place in the hearts of the fans will be taken by returning striker Osimhen.
- Senegal – Sadio Mane
Liverpool star Mane is living one of the best moments of his football career having played a key role for his country to win their first AFCON title just last month.
He is desperate to add another chapter to his international football record by steering the Teranga Lions to defeat Egypt – the team they defeated in the final in Cameroon.
- Tunisia – Youssef Msakni
Even though a lot of focus has been on striker Wahbi Khazri, the main man of Tunisia has been long-standing striker Msakni who plays for Qatari top-flight Al Arabi.