World Cup play-offs preview: Senegal-Egypt and Nigeria-Ghana among 5 crucial clashes


We're at the all or nothing stage of World Cup qualifying for the CAF teams. 10 teams remain, but there are just five spots up for grabs as we head into the second leg games this week. Here, we preview the action ahead of Tuesday's massive set of matches. 


Senegal vs Egypt 


The African heavyweights face each other for the third time since the start of last month. Senegal defeated Egypt to secure AFCON glory at the start of February, but the latter defeated the former to earn a first leg advantage in Cairo last week. Saliou Ciss' fourth-minute own goal was enough for the Pharaohs to take a 1-0 lead into Tuesday's second leg at the Stade Me Abdoulaye Wade. 


World Cup play-offs preview: Senegal-Egypt and Nigeria-Ghana among 5 crucial clashes


Senegal take on Egypt without the services of Abdou Diallo, who lasted just 14 minutes of the Lions of Teranga's defeat, with Pape Abou Cisse expected to deputise alongside Kalidou Koulibaly. Other than that, wholesale changes are unlikely as Senegal dominated, but were unable to find the breakthrough in Egypt last week. 


One of the stars of AFCON, Mohamed Abdelmonem, is expected to miss out after the centre-back underwent surgery to fix a broken nose, while his starting centre-back partner, Mahmoud Hamdi El Wensh, is suspended. Yasser Ibrahim and Mahmoud Alaa may start at the heart of the defence on Tuesday. Trezeguet should feature alongside Mostafa Mohamed and Mohamed Salah.


Score prediction: Senegal 1-1 Egypt 


Nigeria vs Ghana 


Ghana huffed and puffed against rivals Nigeria on Friday night, but were unable to break the Super Eagles down. The Black Stars now travel to Abuja hoping to hold on and nick a winner on the break. A result on home turf was perhaps more than expected as interim boss Otto Addo oversaw a 0-0 draw. 


World Cup play-offs preview: Senegal-Egypt and Nigeria-Ghana among 5 crucial clashes


Francis Uzoho is expected to keep his place between the sticks on Tuesday evening with regular shotstopper Maduka Okoye struggling due to illness. Augustine Eguavoen has plenty of options to call upon in reserve if required, with Premier League stars Ademola Lookman and Emmanuel Dennis both used from the bench last week. 


Addo may well keep things unchanged for Tuesday's game. Andre Ayew remains suspended, and his absence is a huge blow for Ghana. Abdul Issahaku is set to line up alongside Jordan Ayew and Mohammed Kudus behind teenage striker Felix Ohene-Gyan as they seek to spring an upset and book a place at Qatar 2022. 


Score prediction: Nigeria 1-0 Ghana 


Algeria vs Cameroon 


Algeria's destiny is in their own hands after they earned a hard-fought 1-0 win in Cameroon on Friday night. Islam Slimani's 40th-minute strike was enough to secure a first leg advantage and it means that Algeria need only to avoid defeat to book a World Cup spot. It won't be plain sailing for the Fennec Foxes, with Cameroon set to come out all guns blazing. 


World Cup play-offs preview: Senegal-Egypt and Nigeria-Ghana among 5 crucial clashes


Head coach Djamel Belmadi used a three-man backline at the Douala Stadium, but could revert back to a four-man defence here. That would likely see Djameleddine Benlamri drop out for Sofiane Feghouli, while Youcef Atal may also return to the starting XI. 


For Cameroon, captain Vincent Aboubakar was forced off at the break last week, but it would be a huge shock for the experienced striker to miss the second leg meeting with Algeria. Rigobert Song looks set to continue with a 4-4-2 setup, with Kevin Soni potentially starting on the right in place of Martin Hongla to provide an additional attacking option for the Indomitable Lions. 


Score prediction: Algeria 2-1 Cameroon 


Tunisia vs Mali 


Moussa Sissako endured a nightmare five minutes on Friday as the centre-back scored a 36th-minute own goal that ultimately saw Tunisia earn a 1-0 win over Mali, only to then recieve his marching orders shortly before the break. Nevertheless, despite playing the second half with 10 men, Mali still put in a solid shift, and they are not to be underestimated on Tuesday night. 


World Cup play-offs preview: Senegal-Egypt and Nigeria-Ghana among 5 crucial clashes


Tunisia have no injury or suspension concerns for their second leg meeting with Mali, and may well go unchanged for Tuesday's game. Jalel Kadri didn't disappoint in his debut game as Tunisia head coach, so it would be a surprise to see the 50-year-old divert from a 4-3-3 system against Mali. 


Following his first half dismissal, Moussa Sissako is suspended, and his absence means Mamadou Fofana should start at the heart of the Mali defence alongside Boubakar Kouyate. Moussa Djenepo was a half time introduction in the first leg and in this must-win meeting, the Saints star could well feature from the outset. Abdoulaye Doucoure lasted just 45 minutes of his Mali debut, yet is likely to keep his place in the XI. 


Score prediction: Tunisia 1-1 Mali 


Morocco vs DR Congo 


It took Yoane Wissa just 12 minutes to fire DR Congo ahead in Kinshasa last week, but the Leopards were unable to hold out to secure all the spoils against Morocco. Tarik Tissoudali came off the bench to bag the equaliser for the Atlas Lions, who should have drawn level 10 minutes after the restart only for Ryan Mmaee to miss from the spot. 


World Cup play-offs preview: Senegal-Egypt and Nigeria-Ghana among 5 crucial clashes



Ngonda Muzinga is suspended for DR Congo after his late red card on Friday night. Merveille Bokadi came on late on to see out the result for Hector Cuper's side and he is the likely contender to start at left-back on Tuesday. Otherwise, Cuper may opt against sweeping changes against Morocco and use a 4-4-2 system once more. 


Tissoudali will hope his equaliser is enough to start for the Atlas Lions in midweek. However, a conundrum for Vahid Halilhodzic would be who the 28-year-old comes in for. Youssef En-Nesyri has gone 13 games without a goal for club and country, but Ryan Mmaee did fluff his lines from 12 yards, so that's an issue for Halilhodzic. Otherwise, Morocco could be unchanged and use a three-man backline as they seek to continue their superb home record. 


Score prediction: Morocco 3-1 DR Congo

World Cup play-offs preview: Senegal-Egypt and Nigeria-Ghana among 5 crucial clashes