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Knockout round to settle African finalists for 2014

Knockout round to settle African finalists for 2014

52 teams will battle for five African places at the 2014 World Cup – African qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup finals will climax in a round of five knockout games, the Confederation of African Football (Caf) has said.

A record number of countries – 52 in all – have entered their teams into the qualification process, which will begin before the end of the year.

Only Mauritania failed to register its name from Africa’s 53 Fifa members to contest five finals berths in Brazil.

There will be three stages of preliminaries in the African zone.

The knockout format will be used for the first time in more than two decades, assuring a dramatic finish to the qualifiers at the end of 2013.

Caf confirmed the revised African zone format at a meeting of its executive committee in Cairo.

The 24 bottom-ranked teams will play off against each other in 12 two-legged ties in November 2011 to immediately reduce the number of teams in the preliminary process.

The 40 remaining countries will then be divided into 10 groups, which they will contest between June 2012 and September 2013.

The 10 group winners will go on to compete in the climactic play-offs – five two-legged ties which will determine who qualifies for Brazil.

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