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World Cup - Football: Salah and Mane in Qatar super showdown

Liverpool team-mates Mo Salah and Sadio Mane become international rivals over the next few days as African World Cup 2022 qualifying reaches crunch time.

There are ten African nations left vying for five spots in Qatar with five home-and-away ties to decide the qualifiers, and there's no doubt that Salah's Egypt versus Mane's Senegal is the pick of the fixtures.

Meanwhile, the South American qualifying programme for this autumn's World Cup is also wrapped up this weekend.

Brazil and Argentina have already banked the top two spots, with Ecuador looking good for third – which that leaves four more countries in a scrap for the fourth and final automatic qualifying place in what is sure to be a frantic few days of high-stakes football all around the world.

Stakes couldn't be higher in Cairo

The draw couldn’t have been unkinder to Senegal and Egypt. Just a few short weeks after these African superpowers met in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations they meet in again in Cairo in the first leg of their all-or-bust qualifier.

It was Senegal who triumphed in Cameroon in the Afcon final, winning a hard-fought, dreary affair on penalties after the match had finished 0-0.

Egypt are 13/8 to win this renewal in front of their own fans at Cairo International Stadium with Senegal a 17/10 chance, while a repeat of February's draw is 19/10.

All eyes, certainly among Premier League followers, will be on the private battle between Liverpool strike partners Salah and Mane, the two star acts for these nations.

Salah certainly has the better international record, with an impressive return of 47 goals in 82 games for his country.

Yet it's Mane who enjoyed the Afcon more, outscoring his Anfield mate 3-2 and also, of course, netting the winning penalty in the final shootout.

Both have been in decent form since returning to Merseyside, Salah having added five goals to take his seasonal tally for Liverpool to 28, exactly twice as many as his Senegalese team-mate has scored - Mane has bagged four since the Afcon final.

The showdown between Egypt and Senegal probably won't be high-scoring; few games at the Afcon were, with Egypt's seven matches producing the grand total of five goals in normal time.

The second leg is in Dakar on Tuesday.

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Can Ghana utilise venue switch?

Of the four other African qualifying finals, the West African showdown between bitter rivals Ghana and Nigeria is perhaps the most eye-catching.

On the face of it Ghana, who are 7/4 to qualify, look to have very little in their favour.

Fresh from Afcon humiliation at the hands of Comoros in the group stage, they are missing veteran striker Andre Ayew and Rennes starlet Kamaldeen Sulemana and have been forced to move the game to Kumasi, because their national stadium is a mess.

However, there are whispers the move to Kumasi, notionally done out of panic, was almost pre-determined since the Garden City, as it's known, is something of a spiritual football home for the Black Stars.

Kumasi had been a key venue for Ghana during qualifying for the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups, the latter campaign best remembered for a 6-1 drubbing of Egypt on the very same stage where Ghana hope to put Nigeria away in the 50th meeting between these two old rivals.

Ghana are 31/20 inside 90 minutes, with Nigeria 7/4 and the draw a 19/10 chance.

Interestingly the Nigerians - with the likes of Kelechi Iheanacho, Victor Osimhen and Ademola Lookman - as part of a varied and well-stocked front line, didn't draw a single match at the Afcon where they reached the last 16. The return leg is in Abuja on Tuesday.

DR Congo are the lowest-ranked African team still going for gold and they've been paired against Morocco, with the first leg in Kinshasa.

Elsewhere, Cameroon are at home to Algeria and Mali play host to Tunisia.

All eyes on Montevideo in Conmebol climax

Four nations are effectively chasing down the fourth and final qualifying spot in South America, and all eyes are on Montevideo for the enormous showdown between Uruguay and Peru.

Brazil and Argentina are through and it would take the most unlikely set of results for Ecuador to fail to clinch third place.

Uruguay are in the box seat for the final spot in fourth, one place and one point above Peru, who they meet at a packed Estadio Centenario.

La celeste are 8/15 shots against a Peru side who have a history of shocking away results.

More recently, however, road wins in Venezuela and Colombia have kept them in the hunt for fourth place in the group and allayed doubts that they can win on their travels - at 13/2, however, they aren't given too much of a chance.

There are two rounds left in Conmebol qualifying and while fourth place is the Holy Grail for Uruguay, Peru, Chile and Colombia, the consolation prize of finishing fifth guarantees a play-off tie in June against a lucky loser from Asia.

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