A quick glance at Group G of the Africa qualifiers suggests that Egypt have an easy task ahead, but the Pharaohs’ failure to qualify for the FIFA World Cup™ finals since Italy 1990 leaves the door ajar for the other teams.
Despite Egypt’s recent dip in form that has resulted in their unexpected failure to qualify for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2012, a tournament they won three times in succession in 2006, 2008 and 2010, the Pharaohs remain favourites to win Group G.
This will be no foregone conclusion, however. Guinea topped their group in the Cup of Nations qualifiers, ahead of a Nigeria side that made it to the finals of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Nor does history provide any comfort to the Egyptians. They have played Guinea five times to date, losing twice and winning only once.
Zimbabwe: Currently 86 in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, Zimbabwe would seem to be the outsiders, but they cannot be written off altogether. In the 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, for example, they sprang a surprise by knocking the mighty Egyptians out.
Mozambique: These three sides will be joined by the winner of Mozambique-Comoros. If past results are anything to go by, Mozambique would be expected to take the fourth Group G berth, though their chances of progressing further are slim.
Players to watch
Mohamed Zidan, Mohamed Nagy, Essam Al Hadary (EGY), Kevin Constant, Bobo Balde, Fode Mansare, Pascal Feindouno (GUI), Quincy Antipas, Vuza Nyoni, Knowledge Musona (ZIM)
The crunch match
All things being equal, the Egypt-Guinea clash should decide who will qualify from the group.
A look back
Egypt 0-0 Zimbabwe, 15 April 1993, Lyon
When the two teams met in Group C of the second round of qualifiers for the 1994 FIFA World Cup in Cairo, the match ended with a 2-1 win for Egypt that would have seen them go through, but following crowd disturbances the decision was taken to replay the game at a neutral venue. That match was held in Lyon, and Zimbabwe held the Pharaohs to a scoreless draw that sent the Warriors to the top of the group and a disconsolate Egypt crashing out.
2 – Comoros have played only two matches in qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup, both in the lead up to South Africa 2010, when they were the only African debutants in the running.
Did you know?
Egypt were the first African team to take part in FIFA World Cup qualifiers, when they took on Palestine in Cairo on 16 March 1934, beating the visitors 7-1.
Have your say
Can Egypt meet expectations and finish top of the group or will another side seize their chance?