The 48 qualifiers will be split into 12 groups of 4 teams. These teams will play a full round-robin in 2008, with the 12 groups winners and 8 best runners-up advancing to the second group round.
For the first time since 1934, the host nation will also take part in the qualifying stage. However, South Africa will also automatically qualify, regardless of where they finish.
Group 1: Cameroon, Cape Verde, Tanzania, Mauritius
Group 2: Guinea, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Kenya
Group 3: Angola, Benin, Uganda, Niger
Group 4: Nigeria, South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone
Group 5: Ghana, Libya, Gabon, Lesotho
Group 6: Senegal, Algeria, Liberia, Gambia
Group 7: Côte d'Ivoire, Mozambique, Botswana, Madagascar
Group 8: Morocco, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Mauritania
Group 9: Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Seychelles
Group 10: Mali, Congo, Sudan, Chad
Group 11: Togo, Zambia, Eritrea, Swaziland
Group 12: Egypt, Congo DR, Malawi, Djibouti
The 20 teams that qualify will be split into five mini groups of four teams. The winners of each group will qualify for the World Cup. As an added bonus the top three in each group will also qualify for the African Cup of Nations.
If South Africa advance to this stage the points will only count towards the 2010 African Cup of Nations qualifiers and not the 2010 World Cup.
If Angola advance to the second stage then all teams in the group will automatically advance to 2010 African Cup of Nations.