A look at the World Cup playoffs which will decide which five African teams qualify for next year's tournament in Brazil (first legs to be played Oct. 11-15, second legs Nov. 15-19):



Ghana was Africa's best performer at the last World Cup, beating current Egypt coach Bob Bradley's United States team to reach the quarterfinals - only the third African country behind Cameroon in 1990 and Senegal in 2002 to go to the last eight.

Bradley led Egypt to six wins from six in group qualifying to give the record seven-time African champion a chance at only a third World Cup appearance and first since 1990. Before that, Egypt last played at the World Cup in 1934, when it was Africa's first representative at the second tournament ever held.



Although Ivory Coast is the top-ranked team in Africa, it is still a relative newcomer to the World Cup after only qualifying for the last two editions, in 2006 and 2010. The Ivorians were eliminated in the group stage in both, belying their status as Africa's best hope.

Senegal was the second African team to make the World Cup quarterfinals in 2002, when it stunned then-world champion France in the opening game on the way to the last eight on its debut. It hasn't played at the top tournament since.



Ethiopia was a founding member of the Confederation of African Football and African champion in 1962, then went 30 years without playing at a major tournament before returning to the Cup of Nations this year. The football-mad East African nation has never been to the World Cup.

Coach Stephen Keshi led Nigeria to its third African Cup title this year, returning the continent's most populous country to the top and becoming only the second man to win the title as a player and a coach. He also lifted the Cup of Nations as Nigeria captain in 1994.



Tunisia coach Nabil Maaloul quit in disgust after the 2-0 home loss to Cape Verde in the final round of games in group qualifying, only for FIFA to disqualify Cape Verde days later for fielding an ineligible player in the game and reinstate the Tunisians to the playoffs. Ruud Krol will now lead Tunisia in the playoffs as interim coach.

Cameroon provided African football's defining performance when it made the World Cup quarterfinals and very nearly the semifinals in 1990, but was eliminated in the group stage at all four World Cups it has played at since, incredibly winning only one of 12 games since that glorious run in Italy.



Burkina Faso made the African Cup final in February for its best performance at an international tournament and is one of two teams in the playoffs alongside Ethiopia with a chance at an historic first appearance at the World Cup.

Algeria and Ghana had the second best records in the main qualifiers behind Egypt, with Algeria winning five of six games and dominating a group containing African Cup semifinalist Mali. Recent consistency has lifted Algeria to Africa's No. 3-ranked team behind Ivory Coast and Ghana.