Ghana Plays Egypt for Soccer World Cup Spot in African Playoffs

Ghana, a quarterfinalist in the 2010 World Cup, must defeat Egypt to reach the 2014 soccer competition in Brazil.

The teams will contest a two-game playoff in October and November after being drawn together by FIFA and Confederation of African Football officials in Cairo today. In the other four playoffs, Ethiopia plays Nigeria, Ivory Coast faces Senegal, Tunisia takes on Cameroon and Burkina Faso meets Algeria.

Ghana, ranked the 24th best national team by FIFA, the game’s governing body, narrowly missed a semifinal berth in 2010, losing to Uruguay in a penalty shootout. Egypt, a record seven-time winner of Africa’s Cup of Nations, hasn’t appeared in a World Cup since 1990 and never has reached the second round.

Ivory Coast, Africa’s highest-ranked team at No. 19, appeared in the last two World Cups but went out in the group stage on both occasions. Its playoff opponent, Senegal, reached the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup, losing to Turkey.

Nigeria is aiming for its fifth World Cup appearance when it takes on Ethiopia, a team it defeated 2-0 on the way to winning the Cup of Nations this year.

The first playoff matches will take place Oct. 11-15, with the second games Nov. 15-19.