BY APESIN ADEMOLA.
On the last Matchday 6 encounters, five more slots are up for grabs and the class of Egypt 2019 Africa Cup of Nations will be completed. Nineteen finalists are already known, while matches in six centres on Sunday will determine the remaining qualifiers.
The Group E, which Nigeria won on Friday, will produce one of the remaining five finalists. South Africa have a huge task in Sfax, Tunisia against Libya’s Mediterranean Knights, who require maximum points to make it to the tournament in Egypt. The Bafana Bafana, who are looking for at least a point this time, could not break Libya’s defence in the first leg, which ended with a barren score line.
Since their last head-to-head clash in Johannesburg last September 8, Libya have lost back-to-back to Nigeria in Uyo and in Sfax, but walloped Seychelles 8-1 away, while South Africa forced Nigeria to 1-1 draw in Johannesburg and had the same result in a friendly with Paraguay last November in Durban.
Group L offers tantalising fixtures on this last day of the qualifying series with Emmanuel Amuneke believing in his squad to deliver Tanzania’s first qualification for the tournament in 39 years. The ex-Nigerian international has improved the quality and belief of the team since his appointment as Tanzania’s national head coach last August 6, but his efforts will remain just that if the Taifa Stars don’t get to participate in Egypt 2019.
Uganda have already won the group, while the battle for runners-up is a three-horse race. Lesotho, in No 2, have same five points as Tanzania but a better head-to-head record, while Cape Verde are a point behind both teams.
Tanzania will have to beat Uganda in Dar-es-Salam and hope that Lesotho don’t equal the result to go through, while Cape Verde must have a better outcome than Tanzania to make it.
Group G is even tighter as all four teams have their Egypt 2019 dream very much intact. Zimbabwe have the easiest task as they need just one point to guarantee qualification, and feature in the competition for the fourth time after the 2004, 2006 and 2017 editions.
Liberia are second in the group, one point behind Zimbabwe, and will celebrate if they pick a point and Congo Republic don’t beat Zimbabwe, while DR Congo have to win to qualify.
In Group D, the Squirrels of Benin Republic need just a point at home against Togo, who will qualify if they win.
Teams that have booked their places in Egypt 2019 include Nigeria, hosts Egypt, defending champions Cameroon, Ghana, Tunisia and Morocco. Also in the party will be Algeria, Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Angola and Uganda. Madagascar, Burundi and Mauritania will be the debutante at the tournament which kicks off on June 21 at Cairo International Stadium and concludes on July 19.
It will be the 32nd edition of the competition featuring 24 teams for the first time in its 62-year history.
- Group E: Libya v South Africa (first leg 0-0) (6pm)
- Group G: Zimbabwe v Congo Republic (first leg 1-1), DR Congo v Liberia (first leg 1-1) (both 2pm)
- Group H: Central Africa Republic v Guinea (first leg Guinea 1-0) (3pm)
- Group D: Benin Republic v Togo (first leg 0-0) (4pm)
- Group L: Tanzania v Uganda (first leg 0-0), Cape Verde Islands v Lesotho (first leg 1-1) (both 4pm)