Qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, will take place this weekend across the continent. The top-liners largely involve top west Africa and north Africa sides.
Nigeria vs. Algeria
On Saturday, Nigeria will host Algeria at the Akwa Ibom Stadium in Uyo. Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel of Chelsea says a young, hungry ‘Super Eagles’ squad are desperate to compensate for failing to make the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
“It is nice to play with young footballers who are hungry and want to establish themselves as first choices,” he told the Nigerian media.
‘‘I am reminded of my early days in the national team, playing beside stars like Jay-Jay Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu. It was a great pleasure playing with them. It is the same with guys like Alex (Iwobi) and Kelechi (Iheanacho). We enjoy representing our country, creating scoring opportunities and following the instructions of the coach.”
Morocco vs. Ivory Coast
Morocco, on the other hand, will host the current African champions, Ivory Coast at the Grand Stade Marrakech. Morocco coach Herve Renard comes up against his former team.
The Frenchman guided the Ivorians to a long-awaited Cup of Nations title in 2015 and has had a positive impact on sleeping giants Morocco since taking charge last March.
Egypt vs. Ghana
Ghana’s Black Stars will be looking to snatch an unlikely victory against Egypt in a highly anticipated fixture in Alexandria on Sunday.
The West Ham striker Andre Ayew who will captain Ghana in the absence of Asamoah Gyan concedes that the game will be difficult but says the players will not let down their guard as they chase a fourth consecutive World Cup.
“It’s a difficult game for everyone. It’s difficult for us, it’s difficult for Egypt. We are playing in Egypt so they have the home advantage but we are Ghana, we need to do our job. We are going to try and make our nation proud.
‘‘Everyone wants to go to the World Cup so we need to take every game seriously and try and make it through,” he told the BBC. Ghana drew their opening World Cup qualifying match against Uganda. The Cranes of Uganda will be hosting Republic of Congo.
The next round of fixtures for the qualifiers will be played in August 2017. The next time African national sides meet will be in January during the AFCON in Gabon.
The list of other fixtures include:
Cape Verde vs Burkina Faso in Praia
South Africa vs Senegal in Polokwane
Cameroon vs Zambia at Limbe Omnisports Stadium
Mali vs Gabon at Stade 26 Mars
Guinea vs DR Congo at 26 Septembre Stadium in Conakry