By Sulayman Bah
The balloting, scheduled to be held at the Russian city of St Petersburg, will see 26 of Africa’s lowest-ranked nations, including Gambia shuffled for the first Round of preliminaries.
The Scorpions are forced to dabble into the preliminaries based on this month’s FIFA ranking that saw the West African nation below the 100th best, despite an unprecedented 17-place jump.
Gambia is thrown in Pot Two containing thirteen teams in the first round. Should the Scorpions make the cut to the second round they face the remaining 27 Africa highest-ranked in a two-legged play-off format.
The winners of the second round will move into the third round, where five groups of four teams will meet both home and away. The winner of each group will qualify for Russia 2018.
The draw is scheduled for 25th July in St Petersburg.
Pot 1 (13 highest ranked teams)
Niger, Ethiopia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Namibia, Kenya, Botswana, Madagascar, Mauritania, Burundi, Lesotho, Guinea Bissau, Swaziland
Pot 2 (13 lowest ranked teams)
Tanzania, Gambia, Liberia, Central African Republic, Chad, Mauritius, Seychelles, Comoros, Sao Tome and Principe, South Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Djibouti
Top ranked 27 teams
Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Tunisia, Senegal, Cameroon, Congo, Cape Verde, Egypt, Nigeria, Guinea, Congo, Mali, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, South Africa, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Rwanda, Togo , Morocco, Sudan, Angola, Mozambique, Benin, Libya