26 countries entered the CAF qualification for Italia'90. This was a decline from the 1986 World Cup, where 29 teams had participated. Benin, Gambia, Mauritius, Niger, Sierra Leone and Tanzania were all missing from the 1986 qualification. In came Gabon, Lesotho and Rwanda. Of these, Lesotho had participated in two previous qualifications, Gabon had entered a couple of times only to withdraw before the first match, while Rwanda never had entered a World Cup qualification in their history.
The draw for the qualification would take place on December 12th 1987 in Zürich. Before the draw, however, Madagascar and Mozambique were refused to participate by FIFA, due to their outstanding debts. The CAF pool was therefore reduced to 24 teams before the draw.
It had been decided that 16 countries would play in a preliminary knock-out round (i.e. the 1st Round), with the 8 winners progressing to the 2nd Round. They would there be joined by the 8 seeded teams in the AFC zone: Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Zaire. The seeding was decided by these teams' qualification for the 1988 edition of the African Cup of Nations.
The 16 unseeded countries were divided in two groups, seemingly based on geography. Group 1 would consist of teams from East and South Africa, while Group 2 would contain the countries of the North and West. The 2nd Round would be a round-robin tournament of four groups, where each group would have two seeded teams and one team from Group 1 and 2 from the 1st Round.
The draw for the 1st Round provided the following fixtures:
Three countries later withdrew from the qualification, leaving the competition before their first scheduled game: Lesotho, Rwanda and Togo. The withdrawal was perhaps as expected from Lesotho, who had not participated in any qualification for a major tournament since the early 1980s, either withdrawn or not entered. Rwanda, however, were to compete in the World Cup qualification for the first time, before they eventually withdrew. Togo had also withdrawn from the 1986 World Cup qualification, although they did participate in the latest version of the ACN qualification, taking place in 1987. The countries that had drawn against these three were given byes into the Second Round.
1st leg: Angola 0-0 Sudan
7 August 1988, Estádio da Cidadela (Luanda)
Match report due April 2020.
– To be continued –