2018 qualifiers: AfricanFootball’s guide to Saturday

2018 qualifiers: AfricanFootball’s guide to Saturday
Sadio Mane of Senegal reacts in disappointment for missing a penalty during the Afcon Quarter Final match between Senegal and Cameroon on the 28 January 2017 at Franceville , Gabon Pic Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Saturday Sep 02, 2017. 10:00

Welcome to the AfricanFootball guide to today’s 2018 World Cup qualifying matches.

Who’s playing, where and when?

Group B - Zambia v Algeria - National Heroes Stadium, Lusaka
Kick-off - 15h00 CAT

Group C - Gabon v Ivory Coast - Franceville Stadium, Franceville
Kick-off - 18h00 CAT

Group D - Senegal v Burkina Faso - Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium, Dakar
Kick-off - 22h00 CAT

What’s at stake?

Algeria are trying to qualify for a third successive World Cup but come into this match having claimed just one point from the first two rounds. If they are to challenge Nigeria they must win in Lusaka and back it up with a victory in the return game next Tuesday, something their coach Lucas Alcaraz believes they are more than capable of.

Ivory Coast will view their matches against Gabon as a great opportunity to take charge of Group C, but they cannot afford to be derailed in Franceville in a game which will test the tactical skills of coach Marc Wilmots.

Senegal are still seething from their controversial defeat away to South Africa last year and will be itching to take Bafana Bafana down. However, they will do well not to underestimate a Burkina Faso team which topped the group after two rounds and is more than capable of upsetting the Teranga Lions in Dakar.

The Stallions have never been to a World Cup before, but a couple of strong results against Senegal would go a long way in convincing themselves that they’re capable of qualifying.

And which players should I keep an eye on?

Algeria boast an incredible array of attacking talent, but the undoubted jewel in their crown is Riyad Mahrez. He hasn’t managed to impress on the international stage quite like he has in the Premier League, but it’s only a matter of time until he fires for the Fennec Foxes.

Ivory Coast have called on veterans Salomon Kalou and Gervinho to lead their attack against Gabon, who sadly won’t be able to call on arguably Africa’s best current striker, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Senegal star Sadio Mane has been in sublime form for Liverpool and became just the third player in the club’s history (alongside Daniel Sturridge and Robbie Fowler) to score in the first three games of a new Premier League season when he netted a sublime goal against Arsenal last weekend.

Burkina Faso have some heavy hitters of their own, not least the experienced duo of Charles Kabore and Aristide Bance, while former Chelsea youngster Bertrand Traore is beginning to come of age at club level and will look to do the same in the colours of the Stallions.

Is AfricanFootball covering any of the games live?

Yes - We’ll have LIVE play-by-play coverage of the Zambia v Algeria match from Lusaka.

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