Johannesburg: African football chief Issa Hayatou admits he is stressed ahead of a two-day FIFA executive committee meeting starting on Wednesday that will allocate 2014 World Cup qualifying slots.
The Cameroonian secured six places out of 32 for his continent at the previous competition in South Africa last year, but the odds are stacked against him matching that feat for the Brazil tournament.
Africa fared poorly on the field in the first World Cup staged by the continent with only Ghana reaching the knockout second phase while Algeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria and South Africa made early exits.
Even Ghana struggled to make the last-16 with goal difference all that separated them from Australia before they overcame the United States and flopped in a quarter-finals penalty shootout against Uruguay.
Ghana were only the third African country after Cameroon and Senegal to make the last-eight- which has proved an impenetrable ceiling for teams representing the 53-member Confederation of African Football (CAF).
This, plus the fact that Africa has never got more than one side past the first stage, leaves Hayatou short of ammunition as he prepares to confront rival continents demanding greater representation.
"We have to decide the number of teams which will represent CAF at the World Cup in Brazil and I am already stressed about knowing if we will get what we got in South Africa," Hayatou told Radio France International last week.
The African quota for the World Cup rose from the traditional five places to six in 2010 because the host nation is the one automatic qualifier and that slot goes to South America next time.
But the pressure on Hayatou does not end there as Asia and North/Central America have been vocal lately in demanding more places at the quadrennial world football showpiece.
Both regions performed better than Africa at getting past the first round in South Africa despite having fewer challengers with Japan, South Korea, Mexico and the United States going through.
"We believe CONCACAF (North/Central America) deserves another full place at the World Cup due to the performances of our teams on the field and the actions of our confederation off it," said regional boss Jack Warner.
The allocation of slots for the 2010 World Cup was Europe (13), Africa (6), South America (5), Asia (4), North/Central America (3) and Oceania (1) with Uruguay and New Zealand qualifying via inter-continent play-offs.