Only three national teams from the initial lot of 20 have qualified to the knockout stage of the 2014 World Cup qualifiers. Sixteen others will be vying for their group’s berth to the third round during the weekend.
Goal.com provides a preview of the key matches happening around the continent between September 7 and 10.
Central African Republic v Ethiopia | Saturday, September 7 at 16:00 (GMT)
This match is much more crucial to Ethiopia than CAR who have crashed out of the qualifying. The Walia Antelopes will snatch their ticket to the knockout stage if they pull off a win over the Fauves - keeping South Africa and Botswana at bay in Group A.
Tunisia v Cape Verde | Saturday, September 7 at 19:00 (GMT)
Both teams are the survivors of Group B and have a chance to reach the knockout stage. Tunisia are leading with 11 points, just two ahead of Cape Verde. However, the Eagles of Carthage can turn it around at home..
Sierra Leone v Equatorial Guinea | Saturday, September 7 at 16:00 (GMT)
Nothing is at stake in this encounter as both teams have been eliminated from the qualifying campaign after finishing third and fourth in Group B with five and two points respectively. However, the Sierra Leon officials say the match will be used to test new players for future engagements.
Burkina Faso v Gabon | Saturday, September 7 at 15:00 (GMT)
Only Niger have crashed out of the race in Group E. The other three teams: Congo, Burkina Faso and Gabon can still progress to the next round. The Stallions, who began slowly, bounced back recently and are now second of the group. And with a lone-goal loss to Gabon in the first leg, the 2013 Afcon finalists are hoping to take revenge on home ground on Saturday.
Niger v Congo | Saturday, September 7 at 15:30 (GMT)
Leaders of Group E Congo will endeavour to seal their lead with a win over their weekend hosts Niger who no longer have any chance of progressing. However, with one point ahead of second-placed Burkina Faso, the Red Devils need a win to confirm progress.
Senegal v Uganda | Saturday, September 7 at 18:30 (GMT)
Both teams are neck to neck on top of Group J, with Senegal narrowly ahead by a single point. They last met in June at the Nelson Mandela National Stadium in Kampala, which ended in a 1-1 draw. The Teranga Lions will be hosting this time but far away from home in Marrakech, Morocco following Caf’s ban on their Dakar home ground. Whoever loses will fall out of the race.
Angola v Liberia | Saturday, September 7 at 17:30 (GMT)
With four points each from five matches, both teams occupy the third and fourth places respectively in Group J and are thus eliminated from qualifying. Angola held Liberia to a goalless draw in the first leg and are favoured to dominate the return at home in Lubango.
Sudan v Lesotho | Sunday, September 8 at 18:00 (GMT)
Both teams from Group D are among the teams with the lowest points so far in the qualifying, recording just two points each from five matches. They can no longer qualify to the next stage.
Zimbabwe v Mozambique | Sunday, September 8 at 18:00 (GMT)
Mozambique obtained two points from five matches while Zimbabwe claimed just one in Group G. Both teams will be playing to wrap up their engagement at this level thus far, as nothing is at stake in the meeting.
Benin v Rwanda | Sunday, September 8 at 18:00 (GMT)
The Group H ticket to the third round has long been snatched by Algeria who finished with 12 points ahead of Mali on 8. Benin, 5 pts and Rwanda, 2 pts have been knocked out of the campaign, although the Squirrels are hoping to dominate their visitors after holding them to a 1-1 draw in Kigali during the reverse fixture last June.
Cameroon v Libya | Sunday, September 8 at 18:00 (GMT)
This is likely to be one of the crackers of the weekend, as it’s another must-win for each side. Cameroon are on top of Group I with 10 points while Libya are trailing by one. The North Africans won the first leg 2-1 and have announced they would stun the Indomitable Lions on in Yaoundé on Sunday.
Togo v DR Congo | Sunday, September 8 at 18:00 (GMT)
Both teams have crashed out of the competition, but Togo coach Didier Six says he intends to beat DR Congo to record his first win in the campaign after five matches played and one point raked in Group I.
Egypt v Guinea | Tuesday, September 10 at 19:00 (GMT)
Egypt have qualified for the third round but will likely want to complete a flawless run against Guinea to record 18 points in the second round in Group G.
Algeria v Mali | Tuesday, September 10 at 20:00 (GMT)
Algeria already hold their ticket to the next round after totalling 12 points atop Group H but they have revenge on their minds against Mali, who humbled them 2-1 in Bamako in the first leg.