The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is a while away, but, as expected, plans are already underway to make it a memorable one. Following FIFA's mandate that each continental confederation decide its qualifying format, CAF has come up with a system that will be followed by all African countries.
Reuters reports that the qualifiers will be divided into three stages. The first stage will be a knockout contest between the 28 lowest-ranked countries on the continent. Held in two legs — allowing each team to play its opponent in its own country — this stage will produce 14 winners.
The second stage will pool together the 14 winners and the 26 highest-ranked teams. This brings the number of teams to 40, which will be divided into 10 groups. The teams will then take part in playoffs, which will see only one team emerge as the winner in each group.
With the number whittled down to 10, one group winner will now be paired with another in a competition that will be played in two legs. Once this stage is completed, the final five standing will be the teams that will represent Africa at Qatar 2022.
It's clear that this is going to be a long and tough road for African teams, but it will definitely be worth it. This kind of meticulous process will ensure that only the very best from the continent will go on to compete at the global tournament.
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