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AFCON

AFCON 2019: AMUNEKE’S TANZANIA, 5 OTHERS MAY QUALIFY THIS SUNDAY

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BY APESIN ADEMOLA.

 

Six more teams may join the nine who have already booked their spots in next year’s Africa Cup of Nations to be hosted by Cameroon.

 

The finalists include the Super Eagles of Nigeria, hosts Cameroon, record title winners Egypt and former champions Tunisia and Morocco.

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The rest are Senegal, Mali, Uganda and debutante Madagascar.

 

Among the possible qualifiers on Sunday are Tanzania, coached by ex-Nigerian international Emmanuel Amunike, as well as Algeria, Guinea, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. Côte d’Ivoire may also be in the number.

 

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Amunike was hired on August 6 to manage the Taifa Stars whose only appearance in the continent’s flagship tournament was in Nigeria 38 years ago when they were eliminated in the first round.

 

Tanzania played the opening match of Nigeria 1980 at the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos and got beaten 3-1 by the home team. And defeat to Egypt 1-2, plus a 1-1 outcome against the Ivorien Elephants placed the east Africans at the foot of the table in Group A.

 

Amunike has been in charge of three matches since, returning from Kampala with a point against Uganda, losing to Cape Verde away and achieving his first win (2-0) against the same opposition in the reversed fixture.

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If Tanzania lift their game and overcome their hosts in Lesotho in the only Group L match of the day, they will be listed among the finalists of Cameroon 2019.

 

A draw in Maseru will mean that Tanzania will have to better the result of the chasing duo of Cape Verde and Lesotho who will face themselves on the last matchday of the qualifiers, while the Taifa Stars host Uganda.

 

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In the first leg played last June 10 at the Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium, Dar-es-Salam, Lesotho forced the home team to a 1-1 draw.

 

In Group D, Algeria will join the finalists if they make it double victory over Togo having won the first leg by a lone goal.

 

Since winning the African title on home soil in 1990 by beating Nigeria in the final, Algeria’s best outing in the competition was fourth place in Angola 2010 where Nigeria got their revenge by winning the third placed match 1-0.

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If Algeria lose, they will remain on top of the table, but on same points with Benin Republic with whom they have head-to-head advantage.

 

In Group H, Guinea will go through with just a point, or if Central Africa Republic fail to win.

 

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It will be Guinea’s 12th time in the finals, although their best outing was way back in 1976 when they were runners-up to Morocco in Ethiopia.

 

Guinea won the first leg against their hosts Côte d’Ivoire, who will try to avoid double defeats.

 

For the Ivorien, the results of their match and that of Central Africa Republic in Rwanda are of essence. The Elephants will qualify for Cameroon 2019 if they avoid defeat and Rwanda beat their guests.

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Zimbabwe’s quest for a fourth appearance in AFCON finals will be confirmed if they pick a point in Monrovia against the Liberian side they humbled 3-0 in Harare. But defeat will mean that the Harambe Stars, presently leading Group G, will have to battle it out on the last matchday when they host Congo Republic.

 

Congo Republic will step up from the bottom of the table if they triumph over DR Congo, who won the first leg 3-1, while Liberia are also in the mix with only one point behind second placed DR Congo.

 

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Mauritania are on the verge of history. If they beat Botswana, which lost at home 0-1 in the reversed fixture, they will have qualified for the continental competition for the first time. Any other result will however still keep the northwest African team in contention until the last match of the group stage when they travel to Ouagadougou to face Burkina Faso.

 

The Burkinabe, who are presently No 2 in Group I with two points adrift of surprise elements Mauritania, engage Angola in Luanda. The Angolans will seek revenge after losing the first leg 3-1, and realising that victory will lift them above their opponents and put them in good stead to qualify for Cameroon 2019.

 

In Group J, eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) and Niger Republic play for pride having already lost out to Tunisia and Egypt in the race for Cameroon 2019. The first leg of this dead rubber ended goalless in Niamey.

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Mozambique will count on their home fans to back them as they strive to repeat their first leg result against Zambia, who lost at home 0-1 in the first leg. If the Mozambicans succeed, 2012 champions Zambia will be eliminated, while Mozambique will close in on Group K front runners Guinea-Bissau and Namibia, who will then be only one point ahead.

 

In Group F, the situation is uncertain as CAF is yet to determine what happened to the two matches Sierra Leone were stopped from playing with Ghana as a result of the suspension of that country’s FA then.

 

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Kenya lead the group with seven points from four matches, while Ethiopia have four points from the same number of games.

 

Ghana and Sierra Leone have played only two matches each and have three points.

 

Ethiopia host Ghana seeking to deal with their guests who won 5-0 in the first leg, while Kenya are home to Sierra Leone. The West Africans won the first leg 2-1.

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Madagascar, already in Cameroon 2019 finals, fight to snatch Group A leadership from Senegal as they go for a double over Sudan, who were beaten 1-3 at home in the first leg.

 

Fixtures…

Group A: Madagascar v Sudan (first leg Madagascar 3-1) (12:30pm)

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Group D: Togo v Algeria (first leg Algeria 1-0) (5pm)

Group F: Ethiopia v Ghana (first leg Ghana 5-0), Kenya v Sierra Leone (first leg Sierra Leone 2-1) (both 2pm)

Group G: Congo Republic v DR Congo (first leg DR Congo 3-1) (3:30pm), Liberia v Zimbabwe (first leg Zimbabwe 3-0) (5pm)

Group H: Rwanda v Central Africa Republic (first leg Central Africa Republic 2-1) (2:30pm), Guinea v Côte d’Ivoire (first leg Guinea 3-2) (6pm)

Group I: Angola v Burkina Faso (first leg Burkina Faso 3-1) (4pm), Mauritania v Botswana (first leg Mauritania 1-0) (6pm)

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Group J: eSwatini v Niger Republic (first leg 0-0) (2:30pm)

Group K: Mozambique v Zambia (first leg Mozambique 1-0) (2:30pm)

Group L: Lesotho v Tanzania (first leg 1-1) (3pm)

 

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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AFCON

BREAKING! Nigeria Football Federation is finished with Finidi

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Following the poor run of the Super Eagles in the on going qualifying series for the 2026 World Cup which has seen the Super Eagles languishing almost at the bottom of a group in which they were previously the favourites, the Nigeria football Federation (NFF) that they has relieved Finidi George as the head coach of the national team.

Rising from a crisis-managing meeting, the NFF announced that it has resolved to employ an expatriate Technical Adviser for the Super Eagles in the coming weeks, ahead of the AFCON qualifiers and the remaining FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.

 The deduction is that the tenure of Finidi George has come to an end after two competitive matches as a substantive coach and two others in friendly matches as a caretaker coach.

Also, the NFF resolved to beef up its Technical Department with more qualitative hands. Equally, the Technical and Development Sub-Committee will be re-jigged with immediate effect.

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AFCON

Struggling Super Eagles to know AFCON 2025 qualifying round opponents in three weeks

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It has not been a pleasant outing so far for the Super Eagles in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. They have another nine months to wait to reset their arsenal.

But while the World Cup qualifying series go on recess, attention now focuses on the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series.

In exactly three weeks’ time, the Super Eagles will know their opponents in the qualification race for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

Next year’s finals, which will be the 35th edition of Africa’s flagship football championship, will be staged by Morocco.

Preliminary stage survivors Chad, e-Swatini, Liberia and South Sudan will join 44 others for the draw that will hold at the SuperSport studios in Johannesburg, South Africa in the afternoon of Thursday, 4th July.

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The 48 countries will be drawn into 12 groups of four teams each, with the top two teams in each pool qualifying directly to the finals in Morocco.

The first two games of the qualification series will take place in the FIFA window in September (2nd – 10th), with two other matches in the window in October (7th – 15th) and the final two games in the November window (11th – 19th).

Nigeria’s Super Eagles are the runners up at the last edition.

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AFCON

Date and venue fixed for draw for Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2025 Qualifiers

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The journey to the  CAF Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2025 will resume with the draw for the Qualifiers on Thursday, 04 July 2024, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The draw will be conducted at SuperSport studios in South Africa at 14h30 local time (15h30 Cairo time, 12h30 GMT).

48 Nations, including the four winners from the preliminary round (Chad, Eswatini, Liberia and South Sudan) will be drawn into 12 Groups of four teams each to battle it out for places at the finals.

Headlining the confirmed Nations for the draw are reigning African champions Cote d’Ivoire joined by Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, DR Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini and Ethiopia.

Others include Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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The qualifiers are scheduled to kick-off in September 2024 to determine the first 24 nations that will compete for Africa’s biggest event, the  CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco in 2025.

Fresh from the thrills and successes of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 where the host nation defied all odds to claim their third title, a line-up of intriguing matches is expected for the journey to the 35th edition of the showpiece continental sporting event.

In attendance will be selected CAF legends, representatives of the participating teams, members of the Local Organising Committee for Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2025 amongst others.

-CAF

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