28 teams were entered into the competition to try and compete for the 2 places available in Spain. There were to be four rounds.
First Round: 4 teams, Sudan, Liberia, Togo and Zimbabwe were awarded byes to the next round. This left 24 teams to compete over 2-legs.
Second and Third Round: These rounds are also played on a knock-out basis over 2-legs until there are just 4 teams left
Final Round: 4 teams paired up to play knockout matches over 2-legs with the winners qualifying for the finals.
Morocco beat Senegal 1-0 in the 1st leg and then a 0-0 draw in the 2nd saw them progress. Zaire thrashed Mozambique, 5-2 and 2-1. Cameroon eased past Malawi, winning the 1st leg, 3-1 and then drawing the 2nd leg, 1-1. Goals from Roger Milla, Emmanuel Kunde and Theophile Abega won the 1st leg for Cameroon in Yaounde, then Jean Manga-Onguene got the goal in the away leg and “The Indomitable Lions” were through.
Algeria came from 0-2 down in Sierra Leone, to draw 2-2 with goals from Tedj Bensaoula and Lakhdar Belloumi in the final 20 minutes. Then in Oran, Ali Fergani, Bensaoula and Rabah Madjer put them 3-goals up before the eventually winning 3-1 to go through, 5-3 on aggregate.
Kenya and Tanzania had a real battle. Kenya won 3-1 in Nairobi but then in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania overturned the deficit with an impressive 5-0 victory, to go through to the next round.
Tunisia, Africa’s representatives in the previous World Cup in Argentina, were up against Nigeria. In Tunis, goals from Liman and Lahzami gave Tunisia a 2-0 win. A fortnight later in Lagos, Nigeria levelled the tie by winning 2-0 in normal time, and triggering extra time. No further goals came so penalties were ordered. In front of a crowd of over 52,000 Nigeria won the shootout, 4-3 to knock out one of the favourites.
In other matches, Guinea beat Lesotho, Libya beat Gambia, Niger beat Somalia on away goals and then Egypt and Madagascar went through by default as Ghana and Uganda withdrew.
Algeria were up against Sudan, and goals from Bensaoula and Fergani gave them a 2-0 win in the 1st leg. When Rabah Gamouh scored in the 2nd leg, the tie was effectively over. Algeria went through 3-1 on aggregate.
Cameroon were at home in the 1st leg in their tie against Zimbabwe. They also won 2-0 with goals from Mbida and Onguene. They lost the 2nd leg 0-1 but went through 2-1 on aggregate.
Morocco and Zambia both won 2-0 in their home legs, which triggered a penalty shootout where Morocco eventually won 5-4.
Nigeria overcame Tanzania, 3-1 on aggregate and Zaire won 4-3 against Madagascar. Niger lost 0-1 at home to Togo, but then fought back in the away leg to win 2-1 and go through on away goals. Guinea knocked out Liberia with just 1 goal from the 2-legs. Zaire narrowly beat Madagascar 4-3 on aggregate. Egypt went through by default after Libya withdrew.
Cameroon were drawn against Zaire, and lost the away leg 0-1. But in the return in Yaounde, Roger Milla scored 4 goals in a 6-1 win.
Algeria were drawn against Niger. In a 10 minute period either side of half-time, goals from Madjer, and 2 from Belloumi effectively finished the tie. Algeria eventually won 4-0, and although they lost the away leg 0-1, they were through.
Morocco and Egypt had a hard-fought battle with Morocco winning 1-0 in the 1st leg and then drawing the 2nd leg, 0-0. Nigeria knocked out Guinea, 2-1 on aggregate.
This was the business end of the qualifying competition for Africa. Four team, two ties with both winners going through. Only Morocco (1970) had ever appeared at a finals stage.
Cameroon travelled to Morocco for the 1st leg and Roger Milla was again on the scoresheet when he converted a first half penalty. Just before the break, Jean-Pierre Tokoto added the 2nd for Cameroon and they had a crucial lead to take to the 2nd leg. In front of a crowd of 100,000 in Yaounde, Aoudou scored from the spot and then the obligatory Milla goal gave Cameroon a 2-1 win to go through 4-1 on aggregate, to gain their first ever appearance in the World Cup finals.
In the other tie, Algeria won in Lagos when goals from Belloumi and Djamel Zidane, Zinedine’s uncle, beat Nigeria, 2-0. In the home leg, Belloumi was again on target. Nigeria equalised, but when Madjer scored 5 minutes from time, the home crowd of 60,000 went wild as Algeria had booked their place to Spain with a 4-1 aggregate win.
QUALIFIERS: Cameroon and Algeria