This meant their best players were picked to play for the countries which colonized them.
Portugal legend Eusebio, of Mozambican extraction, is a prime example.
Egypt and Sudan were among the first African countries to join Fifa but pulled out of several World Cup qualifiers to avoid playing against Israel, a political arch-enemy.
As a result of the independence movements in the 1950's and 60's, the number of teams trying to qualify for the tournament increased.
It took a boycott of the 1966 tournament in England before an agreement was reached between Fifa and Caf, in which a reserved slot was given to the continent.
A record number of entries were received for the 1970 World Cup qualifying series, in which Morocco became the first country to benefit from the change.