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Arans Tabaruka

By Kevin Amir/Sports

African Dossier-Nairobi


Spain National Team ( La Roja) has qualified for the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

Qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is well underway, as countries compete to fill 32 spots in next year’s showcase on the sport’s greatest stage.

The competition, which will be held from Nov. 12-Dec. 18, 2022, will be the last 32-team edition before the 2026 World Cup across North America expands to 48 teams.

Qatar secured its berth way back in December 2010, a bid process that has since been shrouded in controversy. In terms of allocation of the other berths, 13 spots go to Europe, five go to Africa, four and a half go to both Asia and South America, three and a half go to North and Central America and the Caribbean, and a half to the Oceania region.

Those “half” spots earned by teams send them to a pair of intercontinental playoffs for the last two places in the field. It has not yet been determined which regions will be paired for the playoffs.

With the qualifying cycle happening at different paces across the world due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, the vast majority of the first berths being clinched are coming out of Europe. The majority of the field will be set in March ahead of the April 1 draw, while the two winners of the inter-confederation playoffs will be determined in June.

Seven African countries have progressed to the play-off round of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Qualifiers.

Here’s who has qualified for the 2022 World Cup and where qualifying stands for those still vying for berths.

Qualified Teams

  • Qatar (host nation)
  • Germany (UEFA Group J Winner)
  • Denmark (UEFA Group F Winner)
  • Brazil (One of CONMEBOL’s top four teams)
  • Belgium (UEFA Group E Winner)
  • France (UEFA Group D Winner)
  • Serbia (UEFA Group A Winner)
  • Spain (UEFA Group B Winner)
  • Croatia (UEFA Group H Winner)
  • Switzerland (UEFA Group C Winner)
  • England (UEFA Group I Winner)
  • Netherlands (UEFA Group G Winner)
  • Argentina (One of CONMEBOL’s top four teams)
Brazil National Team (Samba Boys) have also qualified for the World Cup 2022 in Qatar.

After the lowest-ranked 28 teams played two-legged ties, the remaining 40 teams were split into 10 groups of four that competed to advance to the final qualifying round.

The winners of each group earned a spot in the last round, in which they will play two-legged ties for five total spots in March 2022.
hose progressing to the final round are Algeria, Cameroon, DR Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia.

Ivory Coast and South Africa are among the dozens of African sides whose World Cup dreams are over.

The final matchups will be determined by a draw.

Nigerian attacker Victor Osimhen (R) celebrate a goal with his teammates during the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying match between Nigeria and Lesotho at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos/World Cup 2022 Qatar.

Asia (AFC)

The 12 lowest-ranked nations played for six spots in the second round of qualifying. From there, eight groups of five teams competed, with group winners and the top five runners-up reaching the final round (normally it’d have been all group winners and the top four runners-up, but because Qatar competed in the round, which doubled as Asian Cup qualifying and had already been guaranteed a berth in the World Cup, seven of the group winners and the top five second-place finishers advanced).

Those 12 final teams are playing in two groups of six, where 10 home-and-away matchups will determine the standings. The group winners and runners-up will qualify for the World Cup, while the third-place finishers will play in a playoff for the right to compete in the intercontinental playoff. The groups as of Nov. 16:

Heung-min Son has been left out of the team but South Korea and Iran are runaway leaders.

Europe (UEFA)

With the group stage coming to a close, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Croatia, England and Germany clinched first-place finishes.

The second-place finishers in each group occupy 10 spots in the 12-team final qualifying playoff round, and they’ll be joined by two teams who cemented places via the UEFA Nations League route (the two top-ranked group winners from the Nations League that didn’t already qualify for the World Cup or the playoff through their group finish are part of this final round).

The teams in the playoff round are: Portugal, Sweden, Italy, Ukraine, Wales, Scotland, Turkey, Russia, Poland, North Macedonia, Austria and Czech Republic. The final berths were be sorted after Tuesday’s last set of qualifying matches.

In the playoff, the 12 teams (six seeded, six unseeded) will be drawn into three four-team brackets, where single-elimination matches in March 2022 will determine the region’s final three berths. Each path will contain two seeded teams and two unseeded teams, with the seeded teams hosting the semifinal matches. The draw for the playoff will take place Nov. 26. The seeded teams are Portugal, Scotland, Italy, Russia, Sweden and Wales.

The biggest disappointment of the world cup qualifiers was Ronaldo and Portugal's failure to directly qualify at the hands of Serbia

North America, Central America, Caribbean (Concacaf)

Each of the Concacaf teams ranked outside the top five players in a preliminary elimination process that whittled the bottom 30 teams down to just three.

Those three teams to survive the first two rounds of qualifying (Canada, El Salvador and Panama) joined the top-five ranked Concacaf squads in the Octagonal final qualifying stage, where each team plays every opposing squad home and away. The top three teams qualify for the World Cup, and the fourth enters the intercontinental playoff. The standings for the 14-match competition are:

Oceania (OFC)

Due to “logistical challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to an OFC statement, the region has not yet begun the process of anointing its entrant in the intercontinental playoffs, and it’s being taken down to the wire.

Oceania is currently slated to stage the entirety of its qualifying process in March 2022, in Qatar, but the details otherwise remain hazy. It’s unclear whether all 11 of Oceania’s teams will participate (New Zealand, the highest-ranked team in the region, would be the favourite no matter the format; it has won Oceania’s competition ever since Australia left for the Asian region after the 2006 cycle.

New Zealand has fallen in the intercontinental playoffs in each of the last two cycles), but it’s the last chance to hold a tournament to determine the region’s potential entrant by sporting merit. New Zealand is the highest-ranked side, should it come to that. The other nations in the region are the Solomon Islands, New Caledonia, Tahiti, Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, American Samoa, Samoa, Tonga and Cook Islands.

“Despite the issues presented by the pandemic, and subsequent border restrictions in our region, we are working hard to ensure these games can still take place,” OFC secretary general Franck Castillo said in September.

Whoever is anointed from the region will go to the intercontinental playoff round.

South America (CONMEBOL)

Brazil became the first South American team to qualify and was followed not long after by Argentina, whose 0-0 draw against Brazil, coupled with results in other matches to close the November international window, sealed a top-four finish. In the 10-team CONMEBOL region, each nation plays against each other home and away over the course of an 18-match gauntlet. The top four teams in the single table advance to the World Cup, while the fifth-place team goes to an intercontinental playoff.

Arans Tabaruka
Arans Tabaruka

Editor and Africa correspondent

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