2014 World Cup Playoffs Draw and Fixtures Revealed for Africa

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 14:  Didier Drogba #11 of Ivory Coast kicks against Mexico during their match at MetLife Stadium on August 14, 2013 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The final round of World Cup qualifying for the African region is now set. The 10 group winners from the second round were separated into two pots and drawn into five matchups, the winners of which will advance to Brazil. 

As expected, the remaining group is highlighted by the Ivory Coast and Ghana, which have emerged as continental powers during the last few World Cup cycles. That said, in this type of home-and-home format, anything is possible.

Here's a look at the pairings for the final round (via FIFA):

The draw created a couple intriguing matchups. Most notably, the Ivory Coast and Senegal continuing their rivalry, which has seemingly reached a fever pitch recently. Last year, there was stadium riot in Dakar during a qualifier for the African Nations Cup.

Based purely on talent, it's a draw that would favor the Ivory Coast, which has reached each of the last two World Cups. Yet, when you factor in the rivalry and the format, the Elephants' spot in Brazil is far from guaranteed.

The other marquee battle will feature Ghana, a side that reached the quarterfinals in South Africa, going up against Egypt. The Pharaohs were the top side in pot two, meaning whichever side drew them was getting drawn into a tough matchup.

Along with the Ivory Coast and Ghana, the top sides include Algeria, Nigeria and Tunisia. That said, the only true long shot is Ethiopia. Otherwise, the rest of the teams should have a certain level of confidence about their chances.

By mid-November, five of them will have punched their tickets to Brazil for next summer's World Cup.

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