Here are the answers to five questions you may be asking after the first forty games of CAF Round 2 qualifying
1. How many teams have a perfect score?
Of the 40 teams remaining in CAF qualifying only 2 have a perfect record so far with 6 points each; Tunisia and Egypt. Four years ago Egypt was the 3rd ranked team in Africa and disappointed by not qualifying. They have since hired ex-US National Team coach Bob Bradley who brought the U.S. team to the round of 16 in the 2010 World Cup Final. Egypt last appeared in the World Cup Final in 1990, and the two opening wins have the country brimming with confidence. Tunisia has been a consistent African power, making four World Cup Finals. The last time was 2006.
2. Are there any favorites in trouble of not qualifying?
Not yet. South Africa is the only favorite as low as 3rd place in their group but they are only 2 points behind. With 4 games left, that ground can easily be made up.
3. Who are the surprise teams leading their groups?
In Group A the 1st and 2nd place teams are nice surprises. Four years ago this time the Central African Republic was ranked last in Africa. They currently are in 2nd place after their win over Botswana. Ethiopia is ranked #138 by FIFA and #114 by ESPNs SPI, but is currently in first place in Group A. Neither Central African Republic or Ethiopia have ever advanced to the World Cup Final competition.
Benin, another country who has never been to the final tournament, current leads Group H over favorites Algeria and Mali. Benin missed a huge opportunity to have 6 points by relinquishing a goal late in their game against Rwanda.
Sudan, ranked #113 by FIFA and #100 by ESPN’s SPI, holds a tenuous one point lead over favorites Zambia and Ghana. Sudan did earn a big 3 points against Zambia which should help in the future.
4. What are the most anticipated games when qualifying resumes?
Group E: Congo Red Devils versus Niger Mena
Congo and Niger are tied for first place and Congo plays host in a game that would give the winner a decided advantage.
Group D: Ghana Black Stars versus Sudan Nile Crocodiles
Sudan ventures in Ghana but has the opportunity to take control of the Group.
Group A: South Africa Bafana Bafana versus Central African Republic
Struggling South Africa, host of the 2010 World Cup Final, will need this home win to right themselves against 2nd place CAR.
5. When is the next round of qualifying start?
CAF does not play more matches until March 22, 2013.