FIFA has released a new seeding arrangement for the Russia 2018 World Cup Africa group draw in Cairo.
The top seeds are now occupied by Algeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal, and Egypt. Countries that benefited from an upward review include Egypt, Guinea and Cameroon.
However, Tunisia, Nigeria and Mali have lost their regular “exalted” positions.
Guinea and Cameroon are second seeds ahead of a draw that will split 20 nations into five groups with the winners qualifying for the finals in Russia. Tunisia drop from first to second seeds and Nigeria and Mali from second to third seeds for the most eagerly anticipated off-field event in African football this year.
Though FIFA has not yet given any official reasons for the changes, Nigeria’s downward slide will not be unconnected to recent shoddy outings on the international stage. After lifting the Africa Cup of Nations in 2013, the Super Eagles have endured a terrible spell, failing to qualify for two successive Africa Cup of Nations, the worst run in the nation’s history.
The most recent loss in competitive games had been the loss to the Pharaohs Of Egypt which ended any hopes of qualification for the next edition of Africa’s Premier football show piece.
Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana and the Ivory Coast are seeking third consecutive World Cup appearances. Group qualifying starts this October, continues in November and there will be four rounds between August and November 2017.
Eighteen of the nations in the draw are among the top 20 in the rankings with Gabon and Libya the exceptions.
The new seeding arrangement is as follows:
Pot 1: Algeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal, Egypt
Pot 2: Tunisia, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Cameroon
Pot 3: Congo Brazzaville, Nigeria, Morocco, Mali, South Africa
Pot 4: Uganda, Burkina Faso, Zambia, Gabon, Libya