Evouna Malick of Gabon (r) challenged by Nicolas Nkoulou of Cameroon during the 2017 African Cup of Nations Finals Afcon football match between Cameroon and Gabon at the Libreville Stadium in Gabon on 22 January 2017 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Wednesday Nov 08, 2017. 12:30
We look at who needs what to secure qualification for the 2018 World Cup ahead of this weekend’s round of matches. Today’s focus is on Group C: Nigeria, Zambia, Cameroon, Algeria.
Group C fixtures
Saturday 11 November
Gabon v Mali - Stade de Franceville, Franceville - 16h30
Ivory Coast v Morocco - Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny, Abidjan - 19h30
Group C standings
Morocco: 9 points / +9 goal difference
Ivory Coast: 8 / +4
Gabon: 5 / -5
Mali: 3 / -8
Who needs what to qualify?
This group’s qualifier for Russia 2018 hinges on the match between Ivory Coast and Morocco in Abidjan on Saturday evening. The Elephants must win the game to leapfrog to the top of the group and secure a fourth successive World Cup ticket, while the Atlas Lions need only avoid defeat to make a return to the global tournament for the first time since 1998.
The other match between Gabon and Mali in Franceville is a battle to avoid the wooden spoon, with the Panthers holding a two-point lead over the Eagles heading into the clash.
What’s likely to happen?
This is one of the toughest games of the weekend to call, and it’s likely to be one of the most emotional, with Morocco coach Herve Renard hoping to get one over the team he guided to Africa Cup of Nations glory less than three years ago.
The North Africans are unbeaten and have looked the class team of this group, but it may only take one mistake or moment of brilliance for the Elephants to win the match and assume top spot. Yet Renard has proven himself to be the tactical mastermind of African football and we reckon his team will do just enough to hold the hosts and secure a ticket to Russia 2018.