After Eritrea's withdrawal and Ethiopia's exclusion, FIFA has had to adapt the rules that will define the eight best second-placed teams in the second round of the African Zone's preliminary qualifying competition.
Let us have a closer look at the situation. Eritrea's withdrawal has meant that Group 11 of the second round of African Zone preliminary qualifying consists of just three teams, compared to the four national sides making up the other groups. The situation is the same in Group 8 after the exclusion of Ethiopia. Therefore, the task before FIFA was to find the fairest way of defining the eight best second-placed sides - who will join the 12 group winners in the third qualifying round.
The solution settled upon was the following: once all the matches in the four-team groups have been played, the results between the second- and fourth-placed sides will not be considered when comparing the second-placed teams' respective records.
For reference purposes, these are the criterion that will be used to separate the best second-placed teams, in case they finish level on points. They will be applied in chronological order as follows:
- Total points
- Goal difference
- Goals scored
- Away goals scored
- A play-off decider at a neutral ground.