CAIRO (AP) — Egypt must eliminate 2010 quarterfinalist Ghana to make it to the World Cup for the first time in over 20 years after the countries were drawn Monday to face each other in Africa's decisive playoffs.
Top-ranked African team Ivory Coast will meet Senegal in the two-leg series starting next month to decide which one of those West African powers makes it to Brazil.
In the other matchups: Ethiopia will face African champion Nigeria as it attempts to reach the World Cup for the first time; Tunisia will play Cameroon after the North Africans were re-instated to the playoffs in place of Cape Verde; and African Cup runner-up Burkina Faso, also hoping for its first appearance at football's main event, was drawn against Algeria.
The first legs will be played between October 11-15 and the second legs a month later, ultimately deciding Africa's five representatives at the World Cup and ending the two-year qualifying competition.
Egypt, a record seven-time African champion, last went to the World Cup in 1990. But despite the constant distraction of violent unrest at home, former United States coach Bob Bradley led the Egyptians to the 10-team playoffs with a perfect run in group qualifying.
"We are the strongest team in the group. We are not afraid of confronting Ghana," Bradley said at the draw.
Ghana was the best-performing African team at the last World Cup, when it beat the Bradley-led United States in the second round, and will be at home in the first leg. Authorities haven't yet decided if fans will be allowed in to the second leg in Egypt, where recent national team games have been held behind closed doors and in the Red Sea resort of El Gouna, away from the country's unsettled major cities.
Ivory Coast was pitted against Senegal about a year after a riot at a stadium in Dakar when they met in African Cup qualifying. Ivory Coast will be at home first. Senegal reached the World Cup quarterfinals in 2002, only the third African country to achieve that feat, but hasn't appeared on the biggest stage since then.