Cote d’Ivoire have maintained their position as the best-placed African country in the latest FIFA World Rankings released on Wednesday.
Egypt regained second place on the list from free-falling Ghana who drop to third, with Burkina Faso and Nigeria making up the top five.
Senegal, South Africa, Cameroon, Algeria and Tunisia round out the Top 10 and will go into Saturday’s draw as top seeds in their respective groups.
It ensures that none of the above will be pooled together in the group stages of qualifying, though there are a few big names that all will be hoping to avoid, the likes of Morocco, Mali, Guinea and Gabon.
Only the top teams in each group will advance to the final stage of qualifying which will involve a two-legged play-off tie to determine Africa’s five representatives.
But before all that, the 24 lowest ranked sides in Africa must compete just to get into the group stages.
They will play-off in a two-legged tie, with the 12 better ranked sides, namely Gambia, Mozambique, Congo DR, Togo, Liberia, Tanzania, Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Namibia, Burundi being drawn against the 12 lower ranked teams.
They are Madagascar, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Swaziland, Comoros, Lesotho, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti, Mauritius, Seychelles.
Mauritania have withdrawn from the qualifiers and so will not be taking part.
These 24 sides will be drawn in a two-legged tie that will be played on November 11 and November 15 this year, with the 12 teams to qualify from those matches to join the remaining 28 teams in the draw.
The 40 sides will then be drawn into 10 groups of four sides and they will play on a home and away basis in a round-robin format that will last from June 2012 to September 2013.
The ties between the group winners will be played in October and November 2013, meaning the qualification process in its entirety is two years long, taking in 154 matches.
Juventus have accepted an offer from Paris Saint-Germain for Momo Sissoko, according to reports in Italy.
The Italian club are willing to sell the Mali international and a number of outfits have shown an interest.
Stoke City and Real Sociedad are understood to have made enquiries, but Paris SG have reportedly tabled a concrete offer.
It’s understood that PSG are ready to hand over €7m for the player initially, but that could rise by a further €1m depending on results.
It now remains to be seen whether the 26-year-old will accept the Ligue 1 club as a possible destination.
The Old Lady signed Sissoko in January 2008 for a fee of €11m from Liverpool. He’s played in 71 League games for the club since his arrival.
Emmanuel Eboue is heading for the Arsenal exit with confirmed interests from Turkish side Galatasaray.
This revelation was confirmed by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger who is discussing the magnitude of incomings and outgoings.
“It’s not the number, it’s the quality,” Wenger said.
“How many will leave the club? I said from the start I will fight to keep everybody. Nicklas Bendtner might go and Emmanuel Eboue might go. They can talk to clubs, but the rest I will fight.”
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was delighted with the showing of Gervinho on debut against Cologne.
The former Lille striker struck both goals in the 2-1 friendly win.
The brace, the first a deftly executed lob and the second a brave and well-timed tap-in, bode well.
Wenger was understandably delighted Gervinho got off the mark so quickly.
“If you went six weeks without a goal for a striker you raise questions,” reasoned the Frenchman.
“But now it’s out of the way. You could see how quick he is to get behind defenders. He has qualities that are always very interesting for a team like us.”
The relatively inexpensive £10.7m fee that secured Gervinho’s release from Lille may help to unburden him.
Is he a bargain?
“I hope so,” said Wenger. “We look first at the quality of the player and, after, if we have the money, we spend it.”
Reading have secured the services of defender Bongani Khumalo on a season-long lone deal following the approval of Tottenham.
The 24-year-old is yet to play a first-team game for Tottenham after joining them in January this year from Supersport United.
A number of Championship clubs, as well as SPL champions Rangers, were reported interested in the services of the South African.
Striker Didier Drogba is set to ink a one-year contract extension with Chelsea which will keep him at Stamford Bridge until 2013.
The Ivory Coast captain, who joined the Blues from Marseille in 2004, revealed negotiations have begun on a new deal.
“We’ve started talking,” he said. “Everybody knows what I feel about Chelsea and what I want.
“I will definitely be here next season. I said a few years ago I will be here until the end of my contract and I am.”
“Now I need to keep playing well here and giving my best, like I always try to do.
“This will be my eighth season at this club and it means a lot for any striker to stay that long at Chelsea.”
For the first time in his Chelsea career, Drogba admits he will not be assured of a first-team place this season.
The muscular striker is set to compete with record signing Fernando Torres for the starter’s role with new boss Andre Villas-Boas seemingly set to employ one striker.
With the likes of Nicolas Anelka and Daniel Sturridge, who impressed on loan at Bolton last term, also in the squad, Drogba knows competition up-front is going to be fierce.
“Yes, I think we are (contending for one place),” added Drogba.
“That’s the manager’s choice, but it’s been like this for me for all my years at this club.
“It was the same when Eidur Gudjohnsen was here, when (Andriy) Shevchenko was here, and all of the other times.
“I’m 33, I’m the oldest player and, even if that feels strange, I’m not worried.
“If I deserve to play then I will play. If I’m not good then I won’t. It’s good for the team to have some competition.”
Ivory Coast international Gervinho marked his Arsenal debut with both goals in a 2-1 win over Bundesliga side Cologne in a pre-season friendly on Saturday.
Gervinho, signed in the summer from French champions Lille, played just 29 minutes before he was substituted following a collision with Cologne goalkeeper Michael Rensing.
His first goal came after a fine pass from Jack Wilshere before a Theo Walcott cross set-up the second.
Striker Benni McCarthy could be making a return to the South Africa following ongoing talks with PSL side Ajax Cape Town.
Initial reports in the press appeared to speculate that McCarthy would use his time with the Urban Warriors to regain some semblance of fitness before trying his hand at another overseas move.
But the former Porto, Blackburn and West Ham player has revealed that Ajax would be his first choice destination for next season.
McCarthy attended his first training session at Ikamva on Thursday where he looked leaner and sharper compared to just a few months ago when still a Hammers striker.
He told the club’s official website: “I enjoyed my first training session with Ajax Cape Town today.
“This morning’s training session was a good session for me. The players here made me feel like one of the boys and I settled in easily.
“I am impressed by the facilities here. Before I left there were only two fields, now when you look out from the balcony you can see five perfect fields making this complex equal to the best anywhere in the world.
“Last night I watched the team play a friendly at Nyanga Stadium and I must say they are quick and very skillful. There are a few players here that really impressed me and they could make it internationally if given the chance.
“I would like to thank the club for allowing me to train with the team as it gives me an opportunity to be with my family here in Cape Town.”
QPR midfielder Adel Taarabt has confirmed talks with French club PSG over a possible move.
The Moroccan played a pivotal role in QPR’s Championship triumph but had consistently stated his desire to quit the London outfit.
Taarabt told BBC Sport: “We’re talking with Paris Saint-Germain, but nothing is done.
“We’re very close, but if no deal is reached then I will play for QPR in the Premier League.”
The 22-year-old began his playing career at Lens in 2005 before then director of football at Tottenham, Damien Comolli, brought him to White Hart Lane in 2007.
However, the Moroccan failed to break into the first team and moved to QPR on loan in July 2009.
After quickly establishing himself in Neil Warnock’s team, Taarabt signed a permanent deal in August 2010.
He played a key role in QPR’s successful promotion to the Premier League and was named Football League player of the year in March.
If a deal goes through, it is understood that Tottenham would receive 35% of the transfer fee.
Emmanuel Adebayor could be given a new lease of life with confirmed interest from Tottenham Hotspurs.
The ex Arsenal man is currently training with the reserve team after being left out of Man City’s traveling party to the US.
The Togoloese have not hidden his desire to leave the Premiership ‘cash kings’ with his preferred destination being Real Madrid where he spent the latter half of last campaign on loan.
However White Hart Lane boss, on a pre-season tour in South Africa, said: ‘The chairman, Daniel Levy, has been speaking about it, I am not sure if it will happen. He is a name that has certainly been mentioned.
‘I spoke to the chairman about loaning the player and if we could work out a deal for him, I would like to bring him to the club.’
Adebayor risked a hefty fine from his current employers last week when he refused to train with the youth team after being left out of the first-team squad for pre-season.
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