Tunisia are one of the heavyweights of African football and should have little trouble finishing on top of the table after their six group matches. The Carthage Eagles have the kind of pedigree which their rivals can only dream of: four-time FIFA World Cup™ participants (1978, 1998, 2002, 2006), players picking up top-level experience in the European leagues and a solid back-room staff under the aegis of experienced coach Roger Lemerre, who took over the reins back in 2002.
The other three teams in the group will most likely fight it out among themselves for second place, therefore, with Burkina Faso looking the "best of the rest". They too have a number of players under contract in Europe and also have the advantage of an experienced French coach in Didier Notheaux. Burundi meanwhile may have a low profile in terms of international football but should prove more consistent than the Seychelles - thus avoiding the group's wooden spoon.
Tunisia: Having qualified for four FIFA World Cups and won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2004, Tunisia are red-hot favourites to win the group. The only question now seems to be how many points they will drop en route to the next stage...
Burkina Faso: Despite the fact that they are not in the top 100 of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, Burkina Faso are the kind of opponent that demands respect. In the first round of qualifiers for Germany 2006, they managed a shock 1-0 win over Ghana who then went on to qualify for the tournament. They also have a lot of young talent at their disposal, with the backbone of the squad which finished third in the FIFA U-17 World Championship Trinidad and Tobago 2001 now playing for the first team.
The players to watch
Ziad Jaziri (TUN), Hamed Namouchi (TUN), Hatem Trabelsi (TUN), Momouni Dagano (BFA), Aboulaye Cisse (BFA)
The crunch match
The matches between Burundi and Seychelles will see two inexperienced teams from the depths of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, who have each been involved in FIFA World Cup qualifiers for less than 20 years, battling it out with pride at stake.
A look back
Tunisia - Burkina Faso - 1-1 (7-8 PSO), 21 February 1998 in Ouagadougou. This was a match which made all of Africa sit up and take notice. Despite home advantage, Burkina Faso were very much second favourites at the start of this quarter-final tie at the CAN 1998. Ouedraogo nevertheless opened the scoring for the hosts from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time, only for Tunisia to equalise through Gabsi a minute before the final whistle. It all came down to penalties, with the Stallions finally overcoming the Carthage Eagles 8-7 to make it through to the semi-finals.
3- the number of times that Seychelles have taken part in qualifying for a FIFA World Cup, with their first attempt coming ahead of the 2002 tournament. The Seychelles federation was founded in 1979 and affiliated to FIFA in 1986.
Did you know?
Seychelles qualified directly for the second African qualifying round after Sao Tome e Principe and the Central African Republic withdrew from the previous round.
Can Burundi shake up the established order and sneak into one of the top two spots?