The Ivory Coast and west African rivals Senegal were paired together in the final round of Africa’s World Cup qualifiers on Monday reviving a rivalry that ended in a stadium riot last year.
They were the first two countries to emerge from the draw conducted in Cairo, soliciting a gasp of anticipation from the small audience at the Confederation of African Football’s headquarters.
The other four ties see Ethiopia play Nigeria; Tunisia meet Cameroon; Ghana take on Egypt and Burkina Faso and Algeria lock horns
Senegal have been banned over the last 12 months from using their home stadium in Dakar since rioting brought a premature halt to the African Nations Cup qualifier between the two countries last October.
The match was stopped some 14 minutes from the end as frustrated Senegal supporters lit fires on the terraces and threw objects onto the field after Didier Drogba had successful converted a penalty for the Ivorians that put them comfortably ahead on aggregate in the two-legged tie.
Senegal’s team has since undergone a major overhaul after elimination by the Ivorians, appointing former France World Cup star Alain Giresse as their coach and dumping star players like Demba Ba of Chelsea.
They won their group despite being forced to host their World Cup groups qualifiers on neutral grounds in Guinea and Morocco but will have completed their ban by the time they host the second leg of the World Cup play-off.
It is not yet decided, however, whether they will take the match to Leopold Senghor Stadium again.
FIFA have asked the 10 African countries involved in the play-offs to nominate the match day, venue and kick off time by Friday, a spokesman in Cairo said on Monday. The first legs must be played between Oct. 11-15 and the return legs between Nov. 15-19 with the aggregate winners qualifying for the World Cup.
Only Burkina Faso and Ethiopia have yet to participate at the World Cup finals but were handed contrasting draws.
Ethiopia have a tough assignment against Nigeria but Burkina Faso will fancy their chances against Algeria, whose mercurial form sees them ranked third in Africa but in January become the first side eliminated from the Nations Cup finals in South Africa.
Africa’s 2014 World Cup play-offs:
Ivory Coast v Senegal
Ethiopia v Nigeria
Tunisia v Cameroon
Ghana v Egypt
Burkina Faso v Algeria