Henri Saivet of Senegal (c) celebrates goal during the 2017 African Cup of Nations Finals Afcon football match between Senegal and Zimbabwe at the Franceville Stadium in Gabon on 19 January 2017 ©Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Thursday Nov 09, 2017. 11:30
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 D: Senegal, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde and South Africa.
Group D fixtures
Friday 10 November
South Africa v Senegal - Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane - 19h30 CAT
Tuesday 14 November
Burkina Faso v Cape Verde - Stade du 4 Aout, Ouagadougou - 21h30 CAT
Senegal v South Africa - Stade Leopold Sedar Senghor, Dakar - 21h30 CAT
Group A standings
Senegal (4 matches): 8 points / +4 goal difference
Burkina Faso (5): 6 / 0
Cape Verde (5): 6 / -4
South Africa (4): 4 / 0
Who needs what to qualify?
Following the annulment of South Africa’s 2-1 win over Senegal from a year ago, this group is the only one of the five which won’t be completed this weekend. However, it could be done and dusted - as far as which team qualifies, at least - as early as Friday night: if the Teranga Lions win in Polokwane against Bafana Bafana in a replay of that infamous match, then they will qualify for their second World Cup with a round to spare.
Technically all four teams can still qualify, but the irony is that bottom-placed South Africa (because they face leaders Senegal in back-to-back matches) actually have their fate in their own hands - something neither Burkina Faso nor Cape Verde can claim. However, it’s a tall order for Bafana, as they must win both games. Anything less and they are out of the running.
What’s likely to happen?
Senegal will surely get the job done - either in Polokwane on Friday night, or more likely at home in Dakar next Tuesday. In fact, a draw in each game would secure qualification, and playing conservatively while looking to hit with speed on the break is a perfect fit for the inherent physicality their team boasts.