Russian Federation 2018: Morocco, Tunisia join Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal


Morocco and Tunisia will join Nigeria, Egypt and Senegal as the African sides in Russian Federation next summer.

The qualification of Morocco and Tunisia signaled an apparent shift in African soccer, giving North Africa three teams at the World Cup and more than any other region for the first time since 1986. If it qualified for the Russia World Cup, this would have been its fourth consecutive participation in FIFA's flagship tournament.

Morocco and Tunisia booked their places at next year's World Cup finals on Saturday with both teams finishing unbeaten in their qualifying groups.

Leaders Atlas Lions, managed by Herve Renard, who led the Ivoirians to the Africa Cup of Nations title two years ago, had nine points and needed just a draw to qualify for the Mundial, while second-place Elephants with eight points, needed a win.

Goals from Nabil Dirar and Medhi Benatia handed Morocco a 2-0 away win over Ivory Coast, securing a return to the finals for the first time in two decades.

However, it was the visitors, who sealed an emphatic win as Dirar grabbed the opener in the 25th minute with after his tricky cross beat Sylvain Gbohouo, in goal for the Ivoirians. The failure to reach the World Cup after being ever-present since 2006 will put pressure on coach Marc Wilmots.

For Tunisia, the barren draw they recorded against Libya on Saturday was enough to get them another World Cup ticket after they narrowly missed out at the Brazil 2014 edition.

Tunisia finished with 14 points in Group A of the African preliminaries, one ahead of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who fell short despite a 3-1 win over Guinea in Kinshasa.