The start of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is gradually drawing closer. The main competition is set to get underway in November. However, for those nations of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) qualification is not yet assured. The tournament for qualifying is not over and there is still a lot of work left to do.

National sides in Africa have one of the more grueling paths to the World Cup finals. Teams must make it through three rounds before securing their spot. Which ties are set to be played in the third round, and who are the biggest stars that could miss out on a place in the first Arab World Cup?

Egypt vs Senegal

The World Cup will be missing at least one global superstar once all is settled. Liverpool teammates Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are set to collide in the third round of qualification. It will be a repeat of the recent Africa Cup of Nations final, which saw Senegal edge out Egypt to win their first title. Many would have thought it would be unthinkable to see a World Cup later in the year without one of the best players in Africa, but that is the position that we find ourselves in.

We make Senegal the narrow favorites in the soccer betting for the playoff tie. They cruised through qualification, winning five of the six games that they played. Confidence will also be high after winning AFCON for the very first time in early 2022. Egypt believes that they have the best player in the world to call upon, but will need to improve from the second round, as they won just four of the six games that they played.

Cameroon vs Algeria

Cameroon and Algeria are both considered among the most successful national sides in Africa. Despite this, one will miss out on reaching the World Cup in Qatar. Algeria are the reigning AFCON champions before their shocking elimination in the group stages of the competition this year. It will be fascinating to see whether that morale-zapping elimination plays any part in this playoff tie.

Algeria won four of the six games that they played in qualification, and finished just two points clear of second-placed Burkina Faso. Cameroon have already done extremely well to reach this stage, as they were drawn in a very competitive second round group, which included the Ivory Coast. However, the 13 points that they picked up meant that they finished two clear of their main rivals.

Ghana vs Nigeria

Nigeria is the African nation expected to go the furthest in the World Cup later this year. However, they still have a huge challenge to overcome against Ghana in the third round. The Nigerian team was surprised at the Africa Cup of Nations falling in the round of 16 stage against Tunisia. However, with Victor Osimhen back healthy, the national team has every chance of reaching the World Cup.

Ghana managed to scrape through to the third round of qualification. They edged through courtesy of their superior attacking record against South Africa after the two sides finished the Group G campaign level on points. Ghana finished their group with four wins from six games, and scored just seven goals. They will need to be better defensively in the playoff round, as they conceded three goals in Group G.

Democratic Republic of the Congo vs Morocco

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) will be looking to achieve history in the third round. They hope to reach the World Cup finals for just the second time in their history. Their only previous appearance at the competition came in 1974. That year they were eliminated in the group stages. They could be primed to make that history, as they topped a competitive group in the second stage.

However, many will feel that Morocco is just too strong for DR Congo. Morocco were excellent in the second stage, as they finished Group I with a 100% win record. They scored an incredible twenty goals in the six games that they played, and allowed just one goal against. Their strength at both ends of the field is expected to be crucial.

Mali vs Tunisia

The only national team in the third round of World Cup qualification yet to play in the major football event this year is Mali. They will be looking to reach the World Cup finals for the very first time, and come into the third round in fine form. They finished top of Group E, having won five of the six games that they played. Mali boasted the best defensive record in the second round, as they didn’t concede a single goal.

Tunisia has qualified for the World Cup on five occasions since 1978, but they are yet to make it out of the group stage. They finished top of Group B in the second round. Tunisia won four of the six games that they played, scoring eleven goals and conceding just twice. However, this will be a big challenge against a Mali side looking to make history.