Thirteen African countries have qualified at least once for the FIFA World Cup, but never has an East African nation made it to the biggest football tournament in the world.
The region has got yet another opportunity to correct that in the next few months.
World Cup qualifying in Africa resumed during the September international window, with 40 African nations still in the running for spots at Qatar 2022.
The 40 teams are divided into ten groups, with the group winners advancing to the final round of qualifying. Five teams will represent the continent at the next World Cup.
Historically, the East has never been the best at football in Africa. That honour belongs to the North and the West. Can any of the East African nations upset history and secure an unlikely ticket to the Mundial?
Malawi are stuck in a ridiculously difficult group that also comprises Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire– both of whom have been to the World Cup on multiple occasions.
The Flames did very well to secure a ticket to the Africa Cup of Nations earlier in the year, and will end a decade-long absence from the continental showpiece when they feature in Cameroon next year, but their chances of grabbing a fairytale spot in Qatar are considerably more difficult.
They do have three points from their two matches, losing to Cameroon and defeating Mozambique, but not even the most optimistic Malawian expects the Flames to find a route to the top of the group.
While Malawi faces mission impossible, some other East African nations have more realistic prospects of at least winning their qualifying group.
The region has very good representation in Group E, with Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda battling for top spot with Mali.
All three East African countries will nurse genuine hopes of winning this group.
At the moment, Mali have a two-point advantage over Kenya and Uganda, but there’s still plenty of football to be played.
As Kenyan coach, Jacob “Ghost” Mulee opined, his team are still very much on course for a spot in Qatar. Kenyan bookies seem to agree, with many giving the Stars a decent chance of making progress.
Tanzania are currently well-placed in Group J with four points from their two matches. The Taifa Stars sit atop the group, level on points with Benin Republic. The other teams in the group are Madagascar and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Tanzania recorded a thrilling 3-2 victory over Madagascar after grabbing a very creditable point against the DRC.
They are very much in the hunt for top spot.
Ethiopia got a fine win over Zimbabwe to pick up their first points in Group G, but with Ghana and South Africa also in the mix, they have got their work cut out.
The East African nations are once again firm underdogs in the race to Qatar, but Tanzania in Group J, and the trio of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda in Group E seem to carry the region’s biggest hopes of unlikely representation in the Middle East.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :