A sizable contingent of African soccer players who represent North American clubs and whose national teams are still in the running for a berth at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar learned their qualifying fates Tuesday.
The 40 remaining nations were drawn into 10 groups – A through J – of four teams in Cairo by the Confederation of African Football.
Each group will compete in a home-and-away round robin. The 10 group winners will then be paired for home-and-away knockout games to determine Africa’s five allocated World Cup berths.
Fifteen of the players in those groups compete in either Major League Soccer, the second-tier USL Championship, or in third-tier USL League One. Seven of the 10 groups contain at least one of these players.
Group A is headlined by Algeria, which is seeking its fifth World Cup berth and features Montreal Impact midfielder Saphir Taider. Group A also includes Burkina Faso, Niger, and Djibouti.
Three of the four teams in Group C have players currently competing in North America. The group is led by Nigeria; followed by Cape Verde Islands with Jamiro Monteiro (MLS, Philadelphia Union); Central African Republic with midfielder Wilfried Zahibo (MLS, New England Revolution); and Liberia with midfielder Joel Johnson (USL Championship, Charlotte Independence) and forwards Seku Conneh (USL Championship, Las Vegas Lights) and Sam Johnson (MLS, Real Salt Lake).
Defenders Jonathan Mensah and Harrison Afful (MLS, Columbus Crew SC) play for Ghana, which has qualified for three World Cups and headlines Group G with South Africa, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.
Group I has Morocco, Guinea-Bissau, Sudan and Guinea, which boasts the talents of winger Lass Bangoura (MLS, Vancouver Whitecaps)
Finally, Group J contains the Democratic Republic of Congo; Benin; Madagascar, which has defender Romain Metanire (MLS, Minnesota United); and Tanzania with midfielder Ally Hamis Ng’anzi (USL League One, Forward Madison FC).
Groups B, D and H do not feature any North American players.
Here are all 10 qualification groups, complete with any player who represents a North American club and has earned an international call-up in the last year:
Algeria – M Saphir Taider (Montreal Impact/MLS)
Cape Verde Islands – M Jamiro Monteiro (Philadelphia Union/MLS)
Central African Republic – M Wilfried Zahibo (New England Revolution/MLS)
Liberia – M Joel Johnson (Charlotte Independence/USL Championship), F Seku Conneh (Las Vegas Lights/USL Championship), F Sam Johnson (Real Salt Lake/MLS)
Uganda – M Michael Azira (Chicago Fire FC/ MLS)
Rwanda – D Abdul Rwatubyaye (Colorado Rapids/MLS)
Libya – D Mohamed El Munir (Los Angeles FC/MLS) , M Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (New York City/MLS)
Ghana – D Harrison Afful, D Jonathan Mensah (Columbus Crew SC)
Republic of the Congo
Guinea – M Lass Bangoura (Vancouver Whitecaps, on loan from Rayo Vallocano)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Madagascar – D Romain Metanire (Minnesota United/MLS)
Tanzania – M Ally Hamis Ng’anzi (Forward Madison/USL League One)