The surprise package of the 2002 World Cup, Senegal, have struggled to assert themselves in a somewhat limited yet competitive qualifying group for Germany 2006.
Currently lying second to the mighty Togo in Group 1 after an inconsistent run of results, which included draws with Congo and Mail and a 3-1 defeat to Togo, the Lions of Teranga clearly still have a lot to do if they are to qualify.
Despite the presence of Premiership stars El-Hadji Diouf and Henri Camara the Senegalese still have to overcome Togo as well as Mali and third place Zambia if they are to progress to their second successive World Cup.
Group 2 sees South Africa, as expected, on top, three points clear of nearest rivals Congo and African underdogs Ghana. Boasting many top European players (Benni McCarthy, Quinton Fortune, Shaun Bartlett), the hosts of the 2010 finals were always expected to cruise this group and are the only team to have so far won away from home, beating the minnows of the Cape Verde Islands and Uganda.
Group 3, the ‘Group of Death’, features three of Africa’s top sides, Egypt, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast. Boasting Chelsea’s record signing Didier Drogba the group leaders, Ivory Coast, were held away at Libya for the first time in qualification. Meanwhile Cameroon and Egypt recorded substantial wins over Benin and Sudan respectively to keep the pressure on at the top of the group.
Nigeria are placed only second in Group 4 behind overachievers Angola. Having topped the group throughout qualification, a recent 1-1 draw with Rwanda has left the group wide open. It took Inter star striker Obafemi Martins’ second half equaliser to rescue the Super Eagles from an embarrassing defeat. Angola went top following victory over Algeria whilst Zimbabwe keep the pressure on just three points behind in third.
Morocco top Group 5 with Tunisia second, three points clear of third place Guinea with a game in hand. The top two both won with victories over Malawi and Botswana respectively while Guinea keep the pressure on with a hard fought victory over Kenya.