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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

Thank you, Morocco!

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

The President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), Dr. Patrice Motsepe has expressed deep gratitude to the Kingdom of Morocco, the country that has bailed out the confederation and many African countries by hosting most of the football events.

The Africa Cup of Nations 2025 as well as the women’s edition will be hosted by the North African country.

An appreciative Motsepe remarked: “I am confident that the CAF TotalEnergies AFCON Morocco 2025 will be extremely successful and will be the best AFCON in the history of this competition.

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“I am also impressed by the enormous growth of Women’s Football in Africa and I am expecting the CAF TotalEnergies WAFCON Morocco 2024 to be immensely successful.

“ We will continue to make significant progress in developing and ensuring that African Football is globally competitive and amongst the best in the World.

“CAF is grateful to King Mohamed VI of Morocco, the Fédération Royale Marocaine de Football (FRMF), its President Fouzi Lekjaa, the Government and people of Morocco for hosting the CAF TotalEnergies AFCON Morocco 2025 and the CAF TotalEnergies WAFCON Morocco 2024.”

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AFCON

Why it took us a long time to announce AFCON & WAFCON dates – CAF

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Liberia and Eswatini take control of AFCON preliminary ties

The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has confirmed the earlier dates of the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2024 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations announced by Sports Village Square Friday afternoon.

As reported, the Africa Cup of Nations will run from 21 December 2025 to 18 January 2026 while the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations scheduled for this year also in Morocco will hold from 5 to 26 July 2026, suffering a year postponement.

According to a press statement by CAF, the announcement of the dated took much longer than expected, “as there were complex and at times challenging discussions with various interested parties, in the light of the extensive International and Domestic Match Calendars.”

Continuing, CAF stated that it is “committed to protecting and advancing the interests of African players, playing in football clubs in Europe and worldwide. CAF is also committed to building mutually beneficial relationships with the ECA, UEFA, other Football Confederations and FIFA.”

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AFCON

EXCLUSIVE: AFCON 2025 now to run across two years

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CAF Enters Negotiation With FIFA, Morocco And European Clubs Over AFCON 2025 Timing -

At last a date has now been fixed for the Africa Cup of Nations 2025 slated for Morocco. Sports Village Square has gathered that the championship will now hold from 21 December 2025 to 18 January 2026.

That is one of the decisions taken by the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF)  which held a virtual meeting about two hours ago.

The confederation has been having headache over the timing of the tournament which initially was scheduled for the January-February calendar. That period proved impossible owing to congested fixtures that has scuppered the qualifying series.

Available windows are already taken up by the qualifying series for the 2026 World Cup making it impossible for the 24 finalists for the AFCON 2025 to emerge before January 2025.

Morocco proposed the tournament for the summer of 2025, but the inaugural 32-format FIFA Club World Cup of 2025 has made that impossible.

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Other worries of CAF include the timing for the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco this year which is yet to get a date and the annual Women’s Champions League which till now has no hosts let alone a date.

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