ZURICH, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Africa's top-ranked soccer team, Cameroon, were handed a tricky route to the 2010 World Cup after being drawn on Wednesday against Morocco, Gabon and Togo in Group A of the continent's third and final qualifying stage.
The group will see Cameroon's German coach Otto Pfister pitting his wits against the Togo side which he coached through a chaotic 2006 World Cup campaign with players threatening to strike over allegedly unpaid bonuses.
It also brings together former French internationals Roger Lemerre and Alain Giresse who now coach Morocco and Gabon respectively.
''It's a very exciting group, and the fact that Cameroon are neighbours of ours also adds to the spice,'' Giresse told Reuters following the draw.
''Togo are the lowest ranked team in the group and yet they qualified for the World Cup last time around, so it shows how high the quality is.
Only the five group winners will progress to the final tournament along with 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa, who will be the first African country to stage football's biggest event.
The groups are also being used to determine qualification for the next African Nations Cup, also in 2010, with the three top sides in each group going through along with hosts Angola.
''I think in our group it will be Cameroon and Morocco battling it out for top spot,'' said Giresse, whose team hail from the country with the smallest population left in the competition.
''We will be happy if we can make it into the top three.''
Group B also threw up some tough fixtures with Nigeria, Tunisia and Kenya all going head-to-head along with Mozambique.
African champions Egypt were given a slightly easier-looking assignment in Group C where their main rivals are likely to be two-time World Cup participants Algeria.
Ghana were joined by Mali, Benin and Sudan in Group D while Malawi, the lowest-ranked team in the draw, are in Group E along with Didier Drogba's Ivory Coast, Guinea and Burkina Faso.