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Nigeria and Congo line up before their last meeting. Both could still qualify


Wins for Nigeria and Congo should be enough to see both countries qualify for next year's African Nations Cup with an unassailable 10 points each.

A total of 15 places are available via the qualification route, with hosts Equatorial Guinea having claimed one berth already.

The first 14 places will go to the top two teams in each group, while the last place goes to the team that finishes as the best throw placed team.

Going into the final round of matches, Nigeria and Congo, with 7 points apiece can get to an unbreachable 10 points with wins over South Africa and Sudan respectively.

With the Super Eagles having edged the head to head battle against Congo, they would claim the first automatic spot if they beat South Africa. Congo would finish as the best third placed team as no other team from the other groups can reach 10 points.

Their competition for that third place qualifier comes from Egypt (group G, 6 points), Mali and Malawi (group B, 6 points each).

The Pharaohs would first need to do something that has not been done so far in this qualifying series: beat Tunisia, and do so away from home. Then hope that neither Nigeria, nor Congo win. 

The same applies to Mali and Malawi. Mali have the higher mountain to climb. They would need to beat Algeria, the only team with a hundred percent record, to reach their goal of 9 points.

Malawi's task is only slightly less difficult. They just need to trump Ethiopia in Addis Ababa. No easy task.

But if the Super Eagles draw against South Africa, then all sorts of possibilities open up. 

If Congo also draw, Nigeria still advance in second place by virtue of their superior head to head record against the Red Devils.

If Congo win, however, then they finish in second and qualify and the African champions would then need a combination of sequential bad fortune to their rivals in other groups to reach Equatorial Guinea.

First, they would have to hope that neither Mali, Malawi or Egypt win. All would get to 9 points and eliminate the Super Eagles (8 points).

In group C, Angola (5 points, 0 GD) would get to 8 points with a win at Burkina Faso. But would need to do so by more than two goals to pip Nigeria to the qualification post.

In group D, DR Congo (6 points) with a home win over Sierra Leone would move to 9 points. And CIV (9 points), also come into the picture if they lose to Cameroon.

In that scenario, DRC with a better head to head record, finish in second and claim the automatic berth ahead of the Elephants.

The Ivoriens would then need Egypt not to win by more than one goal. And they would also need to keep the goals down against Cameroon.

Group E, at first glance, would appear to be the one most likely to throw up the best third finisher, with the teams at 8, 7, 7 and 6 points respectively. 

In actual fact, it would be the least likely. Draws in both games mean only one of the teams (Ghana) can reach 9 points, while wins for any team eliminates the losing side.

Leaders Ghana are on 8 points and need a win to secure top place and qualification. Same goes for second placed Uganda who need a win at third-placed Guinea with both sides tied on 7 points.

A draw sees Uganda go through on 8 points and superior head to head after beating Guinea 2-0 earlier in the campaign.

Guinea, with 0 goal difference, would be unable to qualify ahead of Nigeria if the Super Eagles draw. 

Togo can still qualify, if they can beat Ghana away. That would see them finish on 9 points. But would also most definitely eliminate the Black Stars.

This is because Uganda lead Ghana on head to head, and even a draw would see them finish ahead of the Black Stars.

A win for Guinea in this scenario also sees them join Togo. The Black Stars would then be unable to qualify as best loser as their goal difference would be at least one less than Nigeria's.

In Group F, Cape Verde and Zambia have already qualified, but a win away to Niger puts Mozambique on 8 points and in the mix.

But they would need to win by 3 goals to top Nigeria's goal difference of +2.

Only one scenario exists for qualification if the Super Eagles lose. Congo would also have to lose to Sudan.

In that case, Congo would be almost certainly unable to qualify on 7 points.

Let the games begin!

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