Kampala — Egypt do not play until Sunday when they host Congo but the Pharaohs were arguably the winners on Saturday as Uganda and Ghana played out a goalless draw at Namboole.
The result in Kampala means victory over the Red Devils will see Egypt qualify for their first World Cup since 1990.
Egypt, having played a game less, top Group E on nine points, with Uganda staying second on eight and Ghana six.
Victory for Egypt will move them to 12 points, meaning that none of Uganda and Ghana can catch them even if the latter won their remaining games against Congo and the Pharaohs respectively.
For Ghana, it was a bitter result to take, especially after their strong penalty appeals when Nicholas Wadada seemed to fell their player were turned down, and late on when one of the assistant referees controversially ruled out substitute Raphael Dinamena's goal for offside.
The first half was full of promise from both ends but without any making inroads.
This was not helped by a miserable pitch, left in this state by midweek overnight prayers that left pitiable stretch marks.
The uneven surface hardly made it easy for the players, with Cranes skipper Denis Onyango skidding every time he attempted a kick or clearance.
Yet chances and moments still came. The first real one saw Ghana defender Daniel Amartey receiving yellow from South African referee Bennett Frazer after he hacked down Emmanuel Okwi off Uganda's counter attack on five minutes.
Farouk Miya, who put in a slightly better shift than his recent matches, could only sky the resultant free-kick about 20 yards from goal.
Ghana clearly had not come to sit back, Frank Acheampong, Thomas Partey, Richmond Yiadom and Kingsley Sarfo involved in some promising attacks.
But it is Uganda that looked more dangerous on the breaks, two of them seeing Derrick Nsibambi, who started up top with Okwi to his right, Kizito Luwagga left, and Miya supporting the trio, missing a sitter thanks to goalkeeper Richard Ofori's intervention.
Ghana's Amartey did head in what could have been the lead but the skipper's effort was ruled out for offside.
Luwagga should have given the hosts the lead on 36 minutes but Godfrey Walusimbi's quality cross from the left had it's direction changed by the uneven bounce of the ball, agonisingly evading the former's outstretched leg.
The Romania-based Luwagga came back from recess with even more resolve, posing several questions to Ghana right back Daniel Opare.
But when he beat Opare midway the second half, Miya was half-hearted in commitment; the latter's weak short, with Okwi calling out to be released inside the area, stopping in a forest of Ghanaian legs.
Both teams badly needed the result, and it told in the tempers, with Okwi and Partey's altercation earning both yellow cards.
But Luwagga seemed undeterred the other end, beating his man again but Okwi headed wide with the goal at his mercy on 64 minutes.
The 20,000-plus fans then experienced a moment of scare, Nicholas Wadada seemingly bundling down a Ghanaian player inside the area only for Frazer to wave away the penalty claims. TV replays showed a significant amount of contact.
Meanwhile, Cranes coach Moses Basena had boosted his creative options, introducing Muzamir Mutyaba for subdued Miya, and later Geoffrey Sserunkuma and Joseph Ochaya for Derrick Nsibambi and injured Luwagga.
Mutyaba did have moments, combining with Okwi down the right, but the Ghanaians held firm.
And they could even have won it only for one of the assistant referees to wave for offside Dinamena's goal in stoppage time.
TV replays seem to show the Ghanaian to have been onside, no wonder the visitors were visibly irked, surrounding the officials in furry at full time.
In the end, it was a result that hardly helped the two teams, leaving it all to Egypt to beat Congo on Sunday and head to Russia.
Uganda 0-0 Ghana
Sunday, October 8: Egypt vs Congo
Final match day
November 6: Congo vs Uganda
November 6: Ghana vs Egypt