French-born English Premier League striker Bryan Mbeumo hopes switching national team allegiance to Cameroon could earn him a place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Brentford star Mbeumo is one of many looking to impress from Thursday as the five African qualifiers – Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia – play two warm-up matches each.
Brighton defender Tariq Lamptey and Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams, both born in Europe to Ghanaian parents, are taking advantage of, among others, a FIFA rule that allows allegiances to be switched.
More and more footballers from Europe choose to represent the African country where their parents or grandparents were born.
Opponents for the African quintet between Thursday and Tuesday range from Brazil, a five-time World Cup winner, to Nicaragua, which is ranked 139th in the world.
Here, AFP Sport reveals how the qualifiers for the latest international window are shaping up until club football stops just seven days before the World Cup kicks off on November 20.
As well as selecting Mbeumo for the first time, coach Rigobert Song has called up Nicolas Nkoulou and George Mandjeck for matches in South Korea against the host country and Uzbekistan.
Defender Nkoulou last lined up for the Indomitable Lions five years ago and midfielder Mandjeck has not featured for the five-time African champions since 2019.
“We need experienced players like Nicolas and George who will help our new generation of players grow. They are passionate and patriotic,” Song said.
Ghana have included Lamptey, Williams and former Germany youth internationals Stephan Ambrosius and Ransford-Yeboah Konigsdorffer for matches against Brazil and Nicaragua in France and Spain.
There is also a place in the squad for Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu, who was born in Ghana but turned down previous call-ups, saying he wanted to focus on his club career.
Masterminding a surprising qualification at Nigeria’s expense, manager Otto Addo picked five players from the Premier League, including Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey and Crystal Palace striker Jordan Ayew.
Most of the attention will be on Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech when six-time World Cup qualifiers Morocco take on Chile and Paraguay at the Spanish venues.
He has been called up by new manager Walid Regragui after being rejected by Bosnian Vahid Halilhodzic, who accused the Premier League player of being a “liar” and a “troublemaker”.
“We look forward to the Hakim that all Moroccans love, the one who fights on the pitch and gives everything for his country,” said former international Regragui.
African champions Senegal have taken a number of knocks before facing Bolivia and fellow qualifiers Iran in France and Slovakia.
Bayern Munich full-back Bouna Sarr will miss Qatar due to knee surgery and striker Keita Balde will only be able to play in the World Cup after the second round due to an anti-doping offence.
Another concern for coach Aliou Cissé is defender Noah Fadiga, the son of 2002 Senegal World Cup midfielder Khalilou, who suffered a concussion playing in France last weekend.
Tunisia, consistently poor at the World Cup, will take on surprise African Cup of Nations packages Comoros and star-studded Brazil in France.
“Facing Brazil is a daunting task,” admits captain and top scorer Wahbi Khazri, “but it will be a stark contrast to reality, telling us where we are strong and where we need to improve.”
Tunisia won just two and lost nine of 15 matches in five World Cup appearances, with 40 years separating victories over Mexico and Panama.