Cameroon lead Africa in FIFA World Cup appearances ahead of 2026 qualifiers in November

Morocco had a fairlytale run at Qatar 2022 by being the first African nation to reach the semifinals

* Ahead of the African qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup that start on November 13 from which 10 teams will qualify

* Malawi are in Group H alongside Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Namibia, Liberia and Sao Tome e Principe 

By Duncan Mlanjira

The indomitable Lions of Cameroon lead Africa in FIFA World Cup appearances at 8 followed by six apiece by Morocco; Nigeria; Tunisia; and four by Ghana and Algeria.


African champions Senegal, together with Egypt, South Africa and Côte d’Ivoire have appeared thrice with one apiece by DR Congo (under the banner of Zaire), Angola and Togo.

The only Confederation of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) to appear at the global football fiesta are South Africa and Angola.

This is ahead of the African qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup that start on November 13 from which 10 teams will qualify.

Malawi are in Group H alongside Tunisia, Equatorial Guinea, Namibia, Liberia and Sao Tome e Principe 

The other groups are:

GROUP A: Egypt Burkina Faso Guinea-Bissau Sierra Leone Ethiopia Djibouti

GROUP B: Senegal Congo DR Mauritania Togo Sudan South Sudan

GROUP C: Nigeria South Africa Benin Zimbabwe Rwanda Lesotho

GROUP D: Cameroon Cape Verde Angola Libya Eswatini Mauritius

GROUP E: Morocco Zambia Congo Tanzania Niger Eritrea

GROUP F: Côte d’Ivoire Gabon Kenya The Gambia Burundi Seychelles

GROUP G: Algeria Guinea Uganda Mozambique Botswana Somalia

GROUP I: Mali Ghana Madagascar Central African Republic Comoros Chad

The African qualifiers will be played across two rounds — with the first to be contested group stage stage with nine groups of six teams each in which each team will play two matches, home and away.

The top finisher in each group will qualify for 2026 World Cup while the second round will pit the four best runners-up in two one-off semi-finals, followed by a final to make it 10.

This will be the first time to have a large representation by African teams.


The qualifying schedule is:

  • November 13-21, 2023: 1st and 2nd matchdays
  • June 3-11, 2024: 3rd and 4th matchdays
  • March 17-25, 2025: 5th and 6th matchdays
  • September 1-9, 2025: 7th and 8th matchdays
  • October 6-14, 2025: 9th and 10th matchdays
  • November 10-18, 2025: CAF play-off tournament

Africa was represented at the last FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 by five teams — Morocco, Senegal, Cameroon, Tunisia and Ghana — where the Atlas Lions had a fairlytale run where they were grouped alongside Belgium (whom they beat 2-0); Canada (winning 2-1) before drawing 0-0 with Croatia to date Spain in Round of 16 whom they beat 3-0 through post match penalties.

The Atlas Lions went on to beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s heavily-fancied Portugal 1-0 to make history of reaching the semifinals in their sixth World Cup appearance — and against another world football giants, defending champions France — which was a different ball game altogether that saw them lose 0-2.

The Atlas Lions became the fourth African nation to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup, following in the footsteps of Cameroon (1990), Senegal (2002) and Ghana (2010).


Until then, none from Africa — or the Arab world — had ever made it to the last four, with only Senegal making it into the Qatar 2022 knockout stages where they lost 0-3 against England in the Round of 16, having qualified in Group A alongside hosts Qatar (3-1), Ecuador (2-1) and Netherlands (0-2).

Tunisia, Cameroon and Ghana never made it to the knockout stages in their groups — Tunisia in Group D with France (1-0), Australia (0-1) and Denmark (0-0); Cameroon in Group G with Brazil (1-0); Serbia (3-3) and Switzerland (0-1 while Ghana in Group H were against Portugal (2-3); Uruguay (0-2) and South Korea (3-2).


Meanwhile, Morocco still lead Africa on FIFA rankings moving two places up to position 13 while reigning  African champions Senegal dropped two places from position 18 but remain amongst the top 20 in the world as they occupy position 20.

Tunisia is now amongst the top 30 in the world after moving up to position 29, while Mali and Cote d’Ivoire both move two places up to 49 and 50 to break into the top 50 ranked sides, replacing Greece and Paraguay respectively. 

As a result, CAF now has 9 teams in the top 50, which is two more compared to the previous rankings.

Guinea-Bissau made the biggest improvement in the rankings, moving up six places to position 106.

Malawi are 123 in the world and 31 in Africa as Argentina still top the FIFA rankings ahead of France and Brazil.


The 15 Highest ranked African teams: 

  • 1. Morocco: 13
  • 2. Senegal: 20
  • 3. Tunisia: 29
  • 4. Algeria: 34
  • 5. Egypt: 35
  • 6. Nigeria: 40
  • 7. Cameroon: 41
  • 8. Mali: 49
  • 9. Côte d’Ivoire: 50
  • 10. Burkina Faso: 58
  • 11. Ghana: 60
  • 12. DR Congo: 64
  • 13. South Africa: 65
  • 14. Cape Verde: 71
  • 15. Guinea: 81

Teams to represent the COSAFA region at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Côte d’Ivoire 2023 are Angola, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia.

The others are hosts Côte d’Ivoire, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, DR Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, The Gambia and Tunisia.

In his message soon after the qualifiers concluded, CAF president Patrice Motsepe congratulated the 24 nations, saying: “The quality of the teams that have qualified is a clear indication that we will hold the most successful AFCON in the history of the competition.


“Côte d’Ivoire is a proud football nation and we are grateful for the commitment of His Excellency President Alassane Ouattara, Prime Minister Patrick Achi, the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and the Fédération Ivorienne de Football to ensure that the football facilities and infrastructure in the country are world-class.

“CAF is looking forward to welcoming all of the qualifying Nations in Côte d’Ivoire on 13 January 2024.”

The Africa Cup of Nations — sponsored by TotalEnergies — is the most popular event in Africa, whose 2021 finals in Cameroon attracting over 500 million TV audiences in approximately 170 countries worldwide.—Information drawn from CAFonline