Breaking Down Africa's World Cup Qualifying Standings and Predicting Final Day
Sunday's action in Africa World Cup qualifying saw the continent move to one match from finishing their group stage.
Of the 10 four-team groups, five have been decided, with the winners of each headed to the African playoffs and the other three eliminated from contention.
Amongst these five winners, group favorites Ivory Coast, Egypt and Tunisia should come as no surprise.
On the other hand, Ethiopia's triumph over South Africa and Algeria's victory over back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations semifinalist Mali should raise a few eyebrows.
For the rest of the five groups, the playoff spot in each will be decided by the final match, which is to be played in September.
Here is a complete breakdown of the standings in each of these five groups heading into their all-important final matches.
Zambia's draw with Sudan Saturday opened the door for Ghana to take the lead in this group.
Zambia still has a good chance to take the playoff spot, though, as they play Ghana in the final match of the group.
However, Ghana just needs a draw at home to book their place in the playoff.
This one could go either way in September, as Zambia proved its ability to come up big in important matches in winning the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
Further, Zambia defeated Ghana in the home fixture of this group last June.
However, the Ghanaians must be favored considering that the match is in Ghana and they only need a draw.
Heading into its final matches, this group has the most teams still alive, as Niger is the only team currently eliminated from contention.
The group was thrown into complete disarray after the first pair of matches in the group, as two 0-0 draws were turned into 3-0 victories for Congo and Niger when Burkina Faso and Gabon were judged to have fielded ineligible players.
Congo will be highly favored to take the group, as the nation holds the lead and plays its final match against Niger.
Meanwhile, Gabon and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations runner-up Burkina Faso will play each other and hope for the Congolese to slip up.
As much as Burkina Faso and Gabon might fight it, it looks as though Congo will be headed for the playoffs.
After all, Niger's only points were awarded to them and not earned on the pitch.
Expect Congo to defeat Niger and head to the playoffs.
Reigning Africa Cup of Nations champion Nigeria missed its opportunity to clinch the group Wednesday, failing to get the victory in Namibia.
As a result, the group is up for grabs heading into the final match between Malawi and Nigeria.
If Malawi can find a way to pick up a victory in Nigeria, then they will shockingly eliminate the Super Eagles.
It would be one of the most surprising results of this qualification process if Malawi were to eliminate Nigeria, especially by winning at home.
However, I just don't see it happening.
A Nigeria victory and comfortable progress seem much more likely.
This group took a big turn this week, as Libya's victory over Togo on Friday and Cameroon's draw at DR Congo Sunday gave the Libyans the lead in the group.
The final match between Libya and Cameroon in Cameroon will decide the group, as a Cameroonian win will clinch the group for them.
Even though Libya currently holds the lead in this group, the team needs a result in its final match to get a spot in the playoffs.
As poorly as Cameroon has played away from home, it has been that much better at home, scoring victories in both matches.
It will be tight, but I'll go with Cameroon to win the final match and head to the playoff.
Senegal kept control of this group with a big win at Liberia, making the group a two-horse race heading into the final match.
The playoff participant will be decided by a huge match between Senegal and Uganda in Senegal in September.
With the home-field advantage and in need of just a draw, Senegal must be favorites to win this group.
However, the Senegalese have suffered consistent let-downs over the past few tournaments, so Uganda fans should still have quite a bit of hope.
Given my predictions, here is the way the playoffs will be set up for Africa's World Cup qualifying:
Qualify in last match:
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