A peculiar draw in Cairo, Egypt on Tuesday evening placed East African neighbours Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda in the same pool, drawing immediate excitement even before chances of qualifying are delved into.
Mali, the biggest name in the pool, completed Group E.
The first round of group games begins in October this year and ends in October 2021 before the final round of play-offs the following month.
Only 10 group winners will progress to the final play-off round, where two-legged ties will decide Africa’s five World Cup representatives in Qatar.
The qualifiers had been due to begin this March but Caf postponed them after re-scheduling the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations from June to January.
.The first round of African qualifiers saw the continent’s 28 lowest-ranked sides compete over two legs, with the winners progressing to join the 26 nations given byes into the second stage.