South Africa, Cameroon and Tunisia will qualify for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations – wherever it takes place – this weekend if they win their penultimate qualifying games.
Algeria and Cape Verde have already qualified for the 2015 tournament whose original hosts Morocco were stripped of the rights to stage the January 17 to February 8 finals over concerns over Ebola.
South Africa are top of Group A with eight points and are playing for the first time since the murder of skipper Senzo Meyiwa.
If they beat Sudan on Saturday in Durban – the hometown of the slain Orlando Pirates goalkeeper – will give them an unassailable 11 points.
Congo and African champions Nigeria are also locked in a tussle in the same Group A with the Super Eagles in serious danger of missing out on the 16-team tournament after they lost to Congo and Sudan.
The Eagles, who have reinstated coach Stephen Keshi and recalled Villarreal striker Ikechukwu Uche, lost to Congo 3-2 at home in September and now need to win on Saturday by at least two clear goals to stay in the reckoning for automatic qualification.
Congo are second with seven points and have two match winners in Ferebory Dore, who has scored three goals in the qualifying series, and Spain-based star Thievy Bifouma, who netted a brace and provided an assist as the Red Devils stunned the star-studded Nigeria in Calabar.
Cameroon are expected to book their ticket from Group D with a win in Yaounde against second-placed DR Congo.
The four-time champions are on 10 points, four points clear of DRC who they beat 2-0 in the reverse fixture three months ago.
The Ivory Coast are expected to get their campaign back on track in the same group by doing the double over Sierra Leone in Abidjan after they defeated the Leone Stars 2-1 in September.
This match will be played in Abidjan because of the severity of the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone.
Tunisia also top Group G on 10 points and a win in Botswana on Friday will qualify them for their 17th appearance at the Nations Cup.
They dominated the game when they hosted the southern Africans in Tunis but only won 2-1.
Senegal and Egypt are neck-and-neck on seven and six points respectively and both teams clash in Cairo on Saturday after the Teranga Lions won 2-0 in Dakar.
With Cape Verde already qualified from Group G, the battle for the second ticket is between 2012 champions Zambia and Mozambique, who are both on five points.
They played out a goalless draw when they first clashed in Ndola and on Saturday the Chipolopolo are away in Maputo in a winner-takes-all encounter.
It is a tight race to the finish in Group C with leaders Gabon just a point ahead of Burkina Faso, and both teams will be on the road to Angola and Lesotho respectively this weekend.
Group E is also too close to call as Ghana on top on eight points face a tricky trip to third-placed Uganda, who have four points.
Togo are second with six points and welcome bottom team Guinea, who have so far recorded four points, also on Saturday.