A replay of the FIFA World Cup 2010 qualifiers as the World Cup 2018 qualifying draw pairs Seychelles against Burundi
File Photo: The Seychelles national football team (players in red) in action against Mozambique at Stad Linite on Saturday July 4. (Louis Toussaint, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles is among 53 African nations that are set to battle for the five spots allocated to the African continent in the next FIFA World Cup finals to be held in Russia from June 14 to July 15, 2018.
The draw for the qualifying campaign which was held last Saturday in the Russian city of St Petersburg has scheduled three qualifying rounds for the African teams.
Seychelles, an Indian Ocean archipelago of 115 islands with a population of around 90,000 people will face Burundi in the first two-legged round which will take place between October 5 to 13, this year.
Only ten places divide Seychelles and Burundi according to the latest world’s football governing body, FIFA’s ranking.
The island nation is currently ranked 48th in Africa while its east African rival for the preliminary FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifiers is ranked 38th.
The Seychelles Football Federation’s Secretary General, Jemmy Adela told SNA that Burundi is not a new opponent for the country as the two sides met in the qualifying round for the FIFA World Cup 2010.
"We lost both the home and away legs against Burundi but on a very close margin," said Adela in a phone interview with SNA.
Seychelles lost 1-0 playing away and 1-2 playing home against Burundi in the matches played in June and September 2008 respectively.
"We are very optimistic though because our aim is to play every game against any team to the best of our ability."
2015 has already been a tough year for the Seychelles national team with several international competitions played.
In May, the island nation faced Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mauritius at the 2015 Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup in South Africa in May, but did not go further than the group stage managing to concede two goals and scoring none in three matches played.
Seychelles has also failed to go through to the next qualifying round of the 2016 African Nations Championship (CHAN) after losing against Mozambique in the first qualifiers.
Next on the cards for the Seychellois players is the Indian Ocean Island Games which is due to officially start in Reunion island as of August 1 to 9.
Winner of the gold medal in the last games held on home turf in 2011, Seychelles has been drawn in Pool A, alongside Mayotte, Maldives and Madagascar, which will be the team's first opponent this coming Friday July 31.
From the Reunion games, the players will have less than a month to prepare to host Ethiopia in the next round of the CAN 2017 qualifiers in September which is already being viewed as an uphill task in this competition as the island nation endured a 4-0 loss in their first qualifying match against Algeria in June.
Adela is of the view that all the matches including the Indian Ocean Island Games is serving as preparations for the World Cup qualifying match.
The first qualifying round for African nations vying for a spot in the World Cup finals will see 26 teams playing on a two-legged basis at the end of which the 13 winners will proceed to the second round where they will be joined by 27 other highest ranked teams on the continent.
The second qualifying round will take place between November 9 to 17, 2015.
The third and last round which will feature the 20 winning teams divided in five teams of four will be played between October 3, 2017 to November, 14, 2017 which will see the five top African teams qualify for the World Cup finals.
Saturday’s ceremony in St Petersburg also saw the draw for the other regions of the world, namely Europe, Oceania, South America and the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, Concacaf.
In the European draw, nine groups of four will have to battle it out for a spot in the finals except for host nation Russia which qualifies automatically.
Asia is the only continent where the preliminary competitions have already started.
The FIFA World Cup which began in 1930 is played every four years. 1942 and 1946 were the only times the competition was not held because of the Second World War.
Germany won the last FIFA World Cup held in Brazil last year on the score of 1-0 against Argentina with Germany scoring the decisive goal in extra time.