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Breakdown of 2010 World Cup draw

The draw for the final round of qualifying for the 2010 World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations has thrown up some appetising match-ups as 20 teams vie for five places in South Africa and 16 berths in Angola.

Here, BBC Sport takes a closer look at the five groups.

GROUP A
Group A is a Francophone affair, and a tough test for any team hoping to make it to the World Cup in 2010.

A Nigerian fan
Nigerian fans will remain confident of qualification after Wednesday's draw
Cameroon may be Africa's top-ranked side, but they will know there is no easy passage through a group which also includes Morocco, Gabon and 2006 World Cup contenders Togo.

Cameroon boss Otto Pfister knows all about Togo. He lead them through that chaotic campaign in Germany and will now meet his old charges as he tries to lead the Indomitable Lions to South Africa and Angola.

Gabon will be fired up to try and embarrass their illustrious neighbours and Morocco are looking for a resurgence under new coach Roger Lemerre.

There is no free passage to 2010 from Group A.

GROUP B

Nigeria have been handed a fine chance to make amends for missing out on the 2006 World Cup.

Boasting the only 100% record from the African qualifying campaign so far, the Super Eagles should prove too strong for Kenya and Mozambique and will find Tunisia their toughest opponents.

The Carthage Eagles have reached the last three World Cups, albeit without winning a match in the finals, but look more entertaining under Portuguese coach Humberto Coelho than predecessor Roger Lemerre.

Led by skipper Karim Haggui, the 2004 African champions will hope the new breed of Tijani Belaid and Fahid Ben Khalfallah can lead them to South Africa.

The World Cup will prove a step too far for Kenya and Mozambique - but the matches between the pair should decide who reaches the Nations Cup, which the Mozambicans haven't contested since 1998.

GROUP C

The other top seeds will surely look at Egypt's group with envy.

The six-time African champions have an excellent chance of ending their 20-year wait for an appearance at the World Cup finals, having been drawn against Algeria, Zambia and Rwanda.

DRAW FOR FINAL GROUP STAGE
Group A: Cameroon, Morocco, Gabon, Togo
Group B: Nigeria, Tunisia, Kenya, Mozambique
Group C: Egypt, Algeria, Zambia, Rwanda
Group D: Ghana, Mali, Benin, Sudan
Group E: Ivory Coast, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Malawi

Hassan Shehata's side has eased through qualifying so far, and has one of the hottest properties in African football leading the line in Amr Zaki.

However, it's no foregone conclusion as they will first have to overcome an Algerian side brimming with confidence after knocking out both Senegal and The Gambia.

Zambia are another side who have punched above their weight in qualifiers, beating Togo to top spot in their previous group.

Rwanda will be hoping to finish inside the top three in Group C, having failed to qualify for the last two Nations Cup finals.


GROUP D

Having overcome their long-standing inability to reach the World Cup finals, Ghanaian fans will believe Group D gives the Black Stars the chance to make it two in succession.

Michael Essien
Ghana will be hoping Michael Essien will be fit again for the final qualifiers
The only previous African champions in the group - four times over - are now being driven forward by the quality of Michael Essien, Stephen Appiah and John Mensah.

Yet the Malians will be no pushovers - boasting the likes of Momo Sissoko of Juventus, Mahamadou Diarra of Real Madrid, Barcelona's Seydou Keita and Sevilla's Frederic Kanoute.

In addition, coach Stephen Keshi has performed miracles before, when leading unfancied Togo to Germany 2006.

The Beninois and Sudanese also have the ability to upset the apple cart in this group.

The Sudanese are a rising force in African football thanks to the oil money resurrecting a game which flourished in the 1970s, while the Squirrels proved their quality when ousting 2006 World Cup finalists Angola in this year's round of qualifying.

GROUP E

Ivory Coast have a fine chance of making a second appearance at the World Cup finals, after their eye-catching debut in 2006.

The Elephants' main rivals in the group are Guinea, who they thrashed 5-0 in the quarter-finals of this year's Africa Cup of Nations.

Ivory Coast then imploded in the semi-finals, losing 4-1 to Egypt, but a comfortable campaign in the first round of qualifying suggests that their momentum is being regained.

"The team has had some problems winning games, but we're still one of the best on the continent," Ivory coast captain Didier Drogba told BBC Sport.

"The disappointment of Ghana is behind us, you can't live in the past, you have to look forward."

Guinea's form in the first group stage of qualifying was patchy, while Burkina Faso surprisingly took four points from their two games against Tunisia.

Malawi are bidding for only their second appearance at the Nations Cup finals, and a continuation of the home form that saw them beat Egypt 1-0 in the previous round will give them reason to be optimistic.

Group breakdown by Piers Edwards, Stephen Fottrell, Steve Vickers and Matthew Kenyon.


see also
Seeds for 2010 qualifying named
14 Oct 08 |  African
2010 World Cup Qualifiers
25 Apr 08 |  African


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