Johannesburg – Unlucky Libya are among 26 countries in second round action this weekend when the qualifying journey to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) continues.
The Mediterranean Knights were ranked 12 in Africa in May by Fifa, but that placing does not count when it comes to the premier CAF national team competition.
Instead, results from the past three Cup of Nations and the 2014 World Cup qualifiers determine which countries play in the preliminaries and which get byes to the group stage.
Sudan, who are 21 places below Libya in the Fifa rankings, pipped Libya for the last of 21 automatic entries into the mini-leagues.
The countries had identical points on the rankings table, and the Sudanese won the tie-breaker because they performed better than the Libyans at the 2012 Cup of Nations.
Ironically, if LIbya overcame Rwanda and then Namibia or Congo Brazzaville they will go into Group A with Sudan, defending champions Nigeria and South Africa.
Post-Gaddafi insecurity in Libya means the Knights must host the Rwandan Wasps at the 65 000-seat Stade Olympique on the outskirts of Tunis.
However, Libyan footballers are used to such difficulties having qualified for the 2012 Africa Cup after playing home games in Mali and Egypt.
Libya will be boosted by winning the African Nation Championship (CHAN) for home-based footballers in South Africa in February under Spanish coach Javier Clemente.
Goalkeeper Mohamed Abdaula, defender and captain Ali Salama and midfielder Mohamed El Gadi were included in the CHAN team of the tournament.
A setback for the Knights is the possible absence of players from Al-Ahly Benghazi because the Cup of Nations qualifiers clash with matchday 1 of the CAF Champions League.
The Africa Cup second and third round dates fall outside the Fifa calendar so neither local nor foreign clubs have to release players.
Tanzania and Zimbabwe meet in Dar es Salaam and both have lost out in club-versus-country clashes.
Democratic Republic of Congo outfit TP Mazembe say they will not release Tanzanians Mbwana Samata and Thomas Ulimwengu as they have a Champions League date in Sudan.
Zimbabwe must do without striker Edward Sadomba, who is needed by Benghazi, and an injury to Simba Sithole further depletes the firepower of the Warriors.
Sierra Leone and Uganda are other nations among the top 20 African countries in the Fifa rankings playing preliminary ties.
A Leone Stars side guided by young Northern Ireland coach Johnny McKinstry visits Swaziland while the Cranes travel to Indian Ocean island Madagascar.
The rankings suggest comfortable overall victories for Sierra Leone and Uganda with both more than 30 places above their opponents.
Cup of Nations debutants South Sudan are away to Mozambique while Kenya should build a comfortable lead when they host the Comoros Islands.
Mauritania, who won home and away against Mauritius in the lone first round qualifier, have home advantage over 2012 quarter-finalists Equatorial Guinea.
Seychelles received a walkover into the third round when Gambia were banned from all CAF competitions for two years over age cheating in the African youth championship. – Sapa-AFP