World Cup Confederations Preview: CAF

With the World Cup draw 8 days away, we take a look at how the rest of the world qualified, in particular, Africa.

With the World Cup draw 8 days away, we take a look at how the rest of the world qualified, in particular, Africa.

World Cup Stats - Africa: Number of member countries: 52 Number of qualifiers: 5

Numbers of winners: 0

FIFA 2014 World Cup participants: - Nigeria - Ivory Coast - Cameroon - Ghana - Algeria

Unsurprisingly, whittling 52 countries down to five entrants is a long and exhausting process.

But, in a quirk of fate, the five teams that qualified from Africa this time around, are the same five that qualified for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.

The African qualifiers commenced in November 2011 with the first round of qualification. The lowest 24 ranked teams played in 12 home-and-away ties to determine who would progress to the second round.

In the second round, the top 28 FIFA-ranked African teams joined the 12 first round winners, where they were drawn in to ten groups of four teams.

The second round commenced in June 2012 and ran until September 2013. The ten group winners then progressed to the third and final round of qualification.

The ten sides that remained were: Ivory Coast, Senegal, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Cameroon, Ghana, Egypt, Burkina Faso and Algeria.

The ten sides were drawn into five home-and-away ties, where the winners would qualify for the main event in Brazil.

Given the strength of the African nations by this stage of qualification, one would think that the matches would be tight affairs.

Surprisingly though, they were mostly one-sided, with the exception of Burkina Faso v Algeria.

Ivory Coast, boasting their talisman, Didier Drogba, played Senegal, the darlings of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan.

With Salomon Kalou, Gervinho, Seydou Doumbia, Yaya Toure and Kolo Toure amongst their ranks though, Ivory Coast started as clear favourites.

The inexperienced Senagalese side-s main man was Newcastle United-s Papiss Cisse. His strength and finishing prowess wasn-t enough to prevent Ivory Coast from registering a dominant 4-2 aggregate victory.

Ethiopia was always going to face an uphill battle against African giants, Nigeria. The Ethiopians rested on Saladin Said, the striker who boasts 11 in 21 matches for the national team.

The Nigerians though, could call upon top level European experience in their captain and goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama of Lille in France, as well as Chelsea players John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses, although the latter is on loan at Liverpool.

The gulf in class proved too much for the Ethiopians, who went down 4-1 on aggregate.

Tunisia and Cameroon looked finely poised after the first leg ended in a 0-0 stalemate. The Cameroonians have star-power though, in the form of midfielder Alex Song (Barcelona) and their captain, Samuel Eto-o (Chelsea).

They powered through the second leg, winning 4-1. It is the seventh time Cameroon have qualified for the FIFA World Cup, the most out of any African nation.

The Ghana v Eygpt tie was over after the first leg. With Michael Essien, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Sulley Muntari, Asamoah Gyan and Christian Atsu in their side, Ghana smashed Egypt 6-1.

The Egyptians restored a modicum of pride by winning the second leg 2-1, but that couldn-t put any gloss on a 7-2 aggregate defeat.

The tie between Burkina Faso and Algeria was the only close contest of the final stage of qualifying. Burkina Faso held the advantage after a 2-1 in the first leg.

Algeria though, fought back to win the second leg 1-0 and thus qualify for Brazil on away goals.

They may be the same five teams that qualified in 2010, but the African nations are ever-improving and with some genuine superstars in their ranks, they will be formidable opponents.