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North America-based African players learn 2022 World Cup qualification paths

North American-based African players found out their qualifying path for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

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).

Group E contains Mali; Kenya; Rwanda with defender Abdul Rwatubyaye (MLS, Colorado Rapids); and Uganda with Michael Azira (MLS, Chicago Fire FC).

Group F features Egypt, Gabon, Angola, and Libya with fullback Mohamed El Munir (MLS, Los Angeles FC) and winger Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (MLS, New York City FC).

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:

Group A

Algeria – M Saphir Taider (Montreal Impact/MLS)

Burkina Faso

Niger

Djibouti

Group B

Tunisia

Zambia

Mauritania

Equatorial Guinea

Group C

Nigeria

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)

Group D

Cameroon

Ivory Coast

Kenya

Malawi

Group E

Mali

Uganda – M Michael Azira (Chicago Fire FC/ MLS)

Mozambique

Rwanda – D Abdul Rwatubyaye (Colorado Rapids/MLS)

Group F

Egypt

Gabon

Libya – D Mohamed El Munir (Los Angeles FC/MLS) , M Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (New York City/MLS)

Angola

Group G

Ghana – D Harrison Afful, D Jonathan Mensah (Columbus Crew SC)

South Africa

Zimbabwe

Ethiopia

Group H

Senegal

Republic of the Congo

Namibia

Togo

Group I

Morocco

Guinea – M Lass Bangoura (Vancouver Whitecaps, on loan from Rayo Vallocano)

Guinea-Bissau

Sudan

Group J

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Benin

Madagascar – D Romain Metanire (Minnesota United/MLS)

Tanzania – M Ally Hamis Ng’anzi (Forward Madison/USL League One)

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