World Cup playoffs: No Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah or Italy? What’s at stake?
Can you imagine a FIFA World Cup in Qatar without Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo or Egypt’s Mohamed Salah? Or a tournament in which European champions Italy or African champions Senegal fail to qualify? Well, the bad news for those mentioned, and fans across the globe is that some of the game’s headline acts will see their Qatar 2022 dreams extinguished in the coming days during the World Cup playoffs.Information Guide Nigeria
By the end of this international break, seven nations will have booked their place in this year’s World Cup through the playoffs. Three more will be confirmed when the Intercontinental playoffs and the culmination of the European path involving Ukraine take place in June.
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In Europe, some of the major nations, including Portugal and Italy, are walking a tightrope after failing to top their qualification groups. And in Africa, five head-to-head ties over two legs will see some of the continent’s traditional powerhouse countries miss out.
It promises to be a tense and dramatic round of playoffs in Europe and Africa, so here’s your guide as to how it will all play out.
In Africa, there is slightly more breathing room for the teams involved, with five separate ties being played over two legs. But some of Africa’s biggest teams and stars will miss out, with the winners of each tie qualifying for Qatar.
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Here’s the draw:
DR Congo vs. Morocco (Friday, 10 a.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Cameroon vs. Algeria (Friday, 12 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Mali vs. Tunisia (Friday, 12 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Egypt vs. Senegal (Friday, 2.30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Ghana vs. Nigeria (Friday, 2.30 p.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+)
Path A involves Wales vs. Austria in Cardiff (Thursday, 2.45 p.m ET., stream live on ESPN+) and Scotland vs. Ukraine in Glasgow, meeting to set up a final in Cardiff or Vienna. However, the conflict in Ukraine means this path will not be concluded during this international break.
Path B was due to be Russia vs. Poland in Moscow and Sweden vs. Czech Republic in Stockholm (Thursday, 2.45 p.m ET., stream live on ESPN+), feeding into a final held in either Moscow or Chorzow, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to FIFA kicking the 2018 World Cup hosts out of the competition. Poland get a bye.
Path C is the real show-stopper, with Portugal vs. Turkey in Porto (Thursday, 2.45 p.m ET., stream live on ESPN2) and Italy vs. North Macedonia in Palermo (Thursday, 2.45 p.m ET., stream live on ESPN+) potentially setting up a clash between Portugal and Italy in Porto for a place at the World Cup. Turkey will play Italy or North Macedonia in Konya if they beat Portugal on Thursday.JAMB Result