The African qualifiers for the 2026 Fifa World Cup began on 15th November, 2023 with the continent set to send a record number  of nations to football’s newly-expanded global showpiece.
Only five countries were present at the 2022 finals in Qatar, where Morocco made history by becoming the first African side to reach the semi-finals.
However, nine African sides are guaranteed a spot at the next edition in Canada, Mexico and the United States, a tournament that will feature 48 teams, up from 32.
There is even the chance for a 10th to qualify via an intercontinental play-off.
— CAF (@CAF_Online) July 13, 2023
Some of the runners-up in the nine qualifying groups will get another chance to reach Canada, Mexico and the USA.
The four best-ranked second-placed sides will be drawn into play-offs, with a semi-final and final in November 2025 determining which African side will advance to an intercontinental play-off tournament.
But of course, the spotlight is on the Black Stars. Chris Hughton is the Head Coach for the men’s senior national team.
The former Brighton & Hove Albion Coach and his technical team [Didi Dramani, George Boateng] have come under intense pressure in the last few weeks after the poor showing in the October friendlies against Mexico and the United States of America.
The Black Stars are currently in Kumasi gearing up for their first group game against Madagascar on Friday at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium, with kick-off scheduled at 4 pm.
— 🇬🇭 Black Stars (@GhanaBlackstars) November 13, 2023
Hughton and the boys will be hoping to start the qualifying series with a win at home against the Malagasy.
Hughton has made a few additions to the 25-man squad he initially named.
Medeama’s Abdulai Nurudeen is the latest local player called up by Hughton, replacing Abdul Mumin of Rayo Vallecano.
Leicester City’s Abdul Fatawu Issahaku has also received a call-up, replacing Kamaldeen Sulemana who plays his club football for Southampton in the English Championship.
Andre Ayew, who recently joined French side Le Havre will be expected to add some experience to the current squad as they embark on a new World Cup journey on Friday, November 17.
— 🇬🇭 Black Stars (@GhanaBlackstars) November 9, 2023
Ghana and Madagascar have met five times at different levels.
The last fixture between the two sides was the second leg of the 2023 AFCON qualifier played at the Mahamasina Municipal Stadium, Antananarivo.
The game ended in a goalless draw, it was Hughton’s third game in charge of the national team.
The first leg finished 3-0 in favour of the Black Stars in Cape Coast.
The other three meetings have seen the Black Stars lose twice to the Malagasy, with their first-ever meeting ending in a three-all draw at the Four Nation Tournament hosted in Tunisia.
- 30th March, 2003 – Ghana 3 – 3 Madagascar [Four Nation Tournament]
- 25th May 2015 – Ghana 1 – 2 Madagascar [Cosafa Cup]
- 1st June 2022 – Ghana 3 v 0 Madagascar [Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers]
- 15th January 2023 – Madagascar 2 v 1 Ghana [Africa Nations Championship]
- 18th June 2023 – Madagascar 0 v 0 Ghana [Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers]
GHANA HAS WON 1, MADAGASCAR WITH 2 AND THE OTHER TWO ENCOUNTERS ENDING IN A DRAW
FIFA RANKINGS :
- Madagascar is currently ranked 108th in the latest FIFA Rankings, on the African Continent they are ranked 23rd above Angola, Kenya and Namibia.
Madagascar has never qualified for the finals of the World Cup.
It took part in its first Africa Cup of Nations in 2019 held in Egypt.
Among its biggest wins was a 1–0 home victory over Egypt in the qualification rounds of the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations until being surpassed by a recent 2–0 win over Nigeria in the group stage of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
- The Black Stars of Ghana, are currently ranked 60th in the World, and 11th on the African Continent.
For the global tournament, the Black Stars have been to four World Cups starting with the 2006 hosted in Germany, 2010 in South Africa, Brazil 2014, and Qatar 2022.
The country missed out on the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
TEAM NEWS: Ghana
Medeama SC defender Nurudeen Abdulai and Abdul Fatawu Issahaku of Leicester City have been called up in place of Abdul Mumin and Kamaldeen Sulemana who pulled out of the squad for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Madagascar and Comoros.
Baba Iddrisu, Dennis Odoi, Kasim Adams, Daniel Amartey, Osman Bukari, Majeed Ashimeru and skipper Andre Ayew, who recently joined French side Le Havre, have all returned to the Black Stars for this month’s FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Madagascar and Comoros.
— 🇬🇭 Black Stars (@GhanaBlackstars) November 14, 2023
TEAM NEWS: Madagascar
Madagascar’s head coach, Romuald ‘Roro’ Rakotondrabe, revealed his 24-man squad for the upcoming 2026 World Cup qualifier against Ghana.
The Barea are determined to secure their place in the 2026 World Cup in the USA, Canada, and Mexico, beginning with a crucial match against the Black Stars.
Notable additions to the squad include French-born central midfielder Adrien Trebel, who plays for Royal Charleroi in the Belgian Pro League.
Trebel had previously represented France at the U20 and U23 levels, earning 10 caps.
Louis Demoleon, a France-born centre-back currently competing for Italian Serie D club Calcio Budoni, received his first call-up to join Madagascar’s camp.
Additionally, France-based defender Nomena Andriantiana, who plays for Aubagne FC in the lower tiers of French football, has been named in the squad for the first time.
Here is the complete 24-man squad for Madagascar to face the Black Stars:
2026 WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS – GROUP A – GROUP I
GROUP A: Egypt /Burkina Faso/ Guinea-Bissau/ Sierra Leone/ Ethiopia/ Djibouti
GROUP B: Senegal/ Congo DR/ Mauritania/ Togo/Sudan/ South Sudan
GROUP C: Nigeria/ South Africa/ Benin/ Zimbabwe/ Rwanda/ Lesotho
GROUP D: Cameroon/ Cape Verde/ Angola / Libya/ Eswatini/ Mauritius
GROUP E: Morocco/ Zambia/ Congo/ Tanzania/ Niger/Eritrea
GROUP F : Côte d’Ivoire/ Gabon/ Kenya/ The Gambia/ Burundi/ Seychelles
GROUP G: Algeria/ Guinea/ Uganda/ Mozambique/ Botswana/ Somalia
GROUP H: Tunisia/ Equatorial Guinea/ Namibia/ Malawi/ Liberia/ Sao/ Tome e Principe
GROUP I: Mali/ Ghana / Madagascar/ Central African Republic/ Comoros/ Chad
2022 ➡️ 🇲🇦🇹🇳🇸🇳🇬🇭🇨🇲
— CAF (@CAF_Online) July 12, 2023
The schedule :
13-21 November 2023: 1st and 2nd matchdays
3-11 June 2024: 3rd and 4th matchdays
17-25 March 2025: 5th and 6th matchdays
1-9 September 2025: 7th and 8th matchdays
6-14 October 2025: 9th and 10th matchdays
10-18 November 2025: CAF playoff tournament