Cairo – Egypt must eliminate 2010 quarter-finalists Ghana to make it to the World Cup for the first time in more than 20 years after the countries were drawn Monday to face each other in Africa's decisive play-offs.
Top-ranked African team Ivory Coast will meet Senegal in the two-leg series starting next month to decide which one of those West African powers makes it to Brazil.
In the other match-ups: Ethiopia face African champions Nigeria as they attempts to reach the World Cup for the first time; Tunisia will play Cameroon after the North Africans were re-instated to the final play-offs in place of Cape Verde, who were thrown out by Fifa for fielding an ineligible player in a crucial win over the Tunisians. Afcon finalists Burkina Faso, also hoping to play at football's main event for the first time, were drawn against Algeria.
The first-leg games will be played between October 11-15 and the second legs a month later. The play-offs will decide Africa's five representatives at the World Cup and end the two-year qualifying competition, which started with 52 hopefuls.
Egypt, record seven-time African champions, last went to the World Cup in 1990. But despite the constant distraction of violent unrest at home, former United States coach Bob Bradley led the Egyptians to the 10-team playoffs with a perfect run in group qualifying, winning six out of six games.
Ghana were the best-performing African team at the last World Cup in South Africa, when they beat the Bradley-led United States in the second round. They’ll be at home in the first leg.
Ivory Coast were pitted against Senegal about a year after a violent riot at a stadium in Dakar when the teams met in Afcon qualifying. Ivory Coast are Africa's No. 1 team and the World Cup will likely be the final international tournament for captain and veteran striker Didier Drogba.
Senegal reached the World Cup quarter-finals in 2002, one of only three African countries to achieve that feat, but they haven’t appeared on the biggest stage since then. The Ivorians will be at home first.
Ethiopia emerged from a long spell of underperforming to play at Afcon this year, but they face a tough draw against continental champions Nigeria, who triumphed in the Afcon final in Johannesburg in February. Ethiopia will host the first leg.
Tunisia were given a second chance at the World Cup after Cape Verde forfeited their victory in the final round of group games for playing Fernando Varela when he should have been suspended.
Tunisia will host Cameroon first, who scraped through qualifying over Libya and will be without all-time leading scorer Samuel Eto'o for the play-offs after the Chelsea striker retired from the national team.
Burkina Faso surprisingly reached the final of Afcon this year and continued that momentum into World Cup qualifying. Algeria will travel to Burkina Faso next month for the opening match. – Sapa-AP