The chance is very slim for the underdogs. Aiming for the leader of the group is very ambitious for Madagascar. And even to aspire to snatch second place is difficult.
The task will not be easy. The mission will be almost impossible for Madagascar if we refer to the records of the six nations in its group for the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. The next edition will be played in three countries, namely the United States, Canada and Mexico. The elimination phase was done in three stages for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, while the next edition will only have one. The fifty-four countries in the running are divided into nine groups of six according to the draw made in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire on Thursday. Madagascar will play in the group of Mali, Ghana, Central African Republic, Comoros and Chad.
The first of each group, nine in all, qualifies directly for the World Cup. The four best runners-up will compete in the Caf play-off tournament in November 2025 and the winner will join the FIFA play-off in March 2026, which will bring together six teams from around the world. Two tickets will be available for the winners at the end of the continental and world play-off matches. A tenth team from the African continent could, however, qualify for the next World Cup. To return to the group stage. Aiming for first place is apparently difficult. The country drawn from hat I, Mali, is ranked 46th in the FIFA rankings and eighth in Africa. This nation has played twelve finals of the Can, vice-champion in 1972, and has already played the quarter-finals of the Olympic Games in 2004. Worse, Ghana ranked eleventh on the continent and 60th in the world rank, has four Can titles (1963, 1965, 1978, 1982). The Black Stars have already played in four World Cups and clinched third place at the Olympics in 1992.
Two bonus tickets
The country drawn from hat 4, the Central African Republic is also not to be underestimated. This nation has twice beaten the Big Island in the Can 2023 qualifiers. The Fauves are currently ranked 133rd in the world and 34th in Africa. The neighboring island, Comoros is ranked 126th in the world and 38th in Africa. The Cœlacanthes have recently shown a better performance by reaching the round of 16 of the last Can in Cameroon. You never know, Chad could also create a surprise. The Sao Chadians are ranked 181st in the world and 49th on the continent. The first two days will be played from November 13 to 21. The third and fourth scheduled, from June 3 to 11, 2024, the fifth and sixth from March 17 to 25, 2025, the seventh and eighth from September 1 to 9, the ninth and tenth from September 6 to 14. The Caf play-off tournament between the four best runners-up will take place from November 10 to 18, 2025, while the FIFA play-off between the six continental play-off winners will take place in March 2026. Only two tickets will be available for the play-off tournaments.