Home News FIFA World Cup 2026: African qualifiers to resume on June 5

FIFA World Cup 2026: African qualifiers to resume on June 5

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Africa’s qualifying campaign for the next World Cup is a staggered affair, drawn out over two years, but a double round of fixtures over the next week will offer an early indication of who will represent the continent at the 2026 finals in North America.

There will be a minimum of nine African sides at the expanded 48-team tournament, co-hosted by Canada, Mexico and the U.S. -– significantly increased from five in Qatar and with the possibility of one more through the playoffs.

The qualifying campaign kicked off last November with the opening two rounds of matches and the next set start on Wednesday, with two more rounds completed by Tuesday, June 11.

Morocco, after breaking new ground for African football by reaching the semifinals in Qatar, are among the heavyweight contenders facing tough examinations. It hosts Zambia in Agadir on Friday in Group E and then plays away against Congo next Tuesday.

READ | Poor facilities cost African teams home advantage in FIFA World Cup qualifiers

Positive results for Morocco will go a long way towards making up for the disappointment of an early exit at the Cup of Nations finals in the Ivory Coast in January, when it was hot favourites to win.

Included in the squad is Ayoub El Kaabi, fresh from his heroics in helping Olympiakos to win a first European club competition title last Wednesday.

Nigeria and South Africa reprise their Cup of Nations semifinal meeting when they clash in Uyo in Group C.

Nigeria’s last home qualifier in November was an embarrassing draw with tiny Lesotho and will be without Victor Osimhen for Friday’s clash. The Napoli striker is injured.

South Africa has included Lyle Foster from Burnley who makes his first trip with the team since last year taking a break from football for several weeks with mental health issues.

African champions Ivory Coast hosts Gabon and then plays away against Kenya in Group F where it has already won the opening two games. Sebastien Haller, who came on as a substitute for Borussia Dortmund in Saturday’s Champions League final loss to Real Madrid, is included.

PREPARATIONS OVERSHADOWED

Cameroon’s preparations for tough games against the Cape Verde islands and Angola have been overshadowed by a battle over the nomination of the new coach between football federation president Samuel Eto’o and the sports ministry, which pays the coach’s salary.

Belgian Marc Brys was the ministry’s choice in April which Eto’o initially rejected but has now accepted after a lengthy and public battle.

Luis Boa Morte begins his new career as Guinea Bisau coach, after leaving his job as assistant coach at Fulham, with home qualifiers against Ethiopia on Thursday and Egypt next Monday.

“It is not easy to qualify for the World Cup and it is a difficult route to get there but it is not impossible for a country like ours,” Boa Morte said at the weekend.

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