NAIROBI, July 25- Kenya will open their 2018 World Cup qualification bid with a two-legged clash against Mauritius following the draw conducted in Russia on Saturday.
Harambee Stars who are ranked among the bottom 26 teams in Africa start their campaign away before welcoming the Mauritians at home to vie for passage to the second round.
Here, the 13 winners on aggregate from the first round and the 27 other countries compete in two-leg ties in the second in November with winners progressing to a group stages where five nations will represent Africa at the 2018 finals in Russia.
The winner of the Stars-Mauritius clash will take on rising Cape Verde over two-legs for a ticket to the pool stages of the qualifiers where group winners will play at the Russia World Cup.
The third and final round will run from October 2016 to November 2017 when Africa’s representatives to the Mundial will be known.
The 20 winners from the second round knockout matches will be drawn in five groups of four (to be made at the end of the 2nd round).
Stars hammered Seychelles 7-0 on aggregate in the first round of the 2014 Brazil World Cup before being drawn against Nigeria, Malawi and Namibia in Group F of the second round where they crashed out of the running by finishing third on 6 points.
The ten winners from that phase faced-off in a two-legged knockout final round where Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon and Algeria played at the Brazil finals.
AFRICA QUALIFYING DRAW
1st round (October 2015)
The 26 lowest-ranked African sides in FIFA rankings play each other in two-legged ties:
Somalia v Niger
South Sudan v Mauritania
Gambia v Namibia
Sao Tome and Principe v Ethiopia
Chad v Sierra Leone
Comoros v Lesotho
Djibouti v Swaziland
Eritrea v Botswana
Seychelles v Burundi
Liberia v Guinea Bissau
Central African Republic v Madagascar
Mauritius v Kenya
Tanzania v Malawi
2nd round (November 2015)
The 13 winners from the first round and the 27 other countries compete in two-leg ties with winners progressing to a group stage:
Somalia or Niger v Cameroon
South Sudan or Mauritania v Tunisia
Gambia or Namibia v Guinea
Sao Tome and Principe or Ethiopia v Congo
Chad or Sierra Leone v Egypt
Comoros or Lesotho v Ghana
Djibouti or Swaziland v Nigeria
Eritrea or Botswana v Mali
Seychelles or Burundi v Democratic Republic of Congo
Liberia or Guinea Bissau v Ivory Coast
Central Africa Republic or Madagascar v Senegal
Mauritius or Kenya v Cape Verde
Tanzania or Malawi v Algeria
Sudan v Zambia
Libya v Rwanda
Morocco v Equatorial Guinee
Mozambique v Gabon
Benin v Burkina Faso
Togo v Uganda
Angola v South Africa
3rd round (October 2016 to November 2017)
The 20 winners from the second round knockout matches will be drawn in five groups of four (to be made at the end of the 2nd round). The group winners will qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
-Additional material from AFP