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The journey to the Africa Cup of Nations Cameroon 2021 begins on Wednesday with eight teams involved in the preliminary round.

The initial round, involving the eight lowest ranked teams will see the octet battling for four spots to join the 44 teams for the group stage. A lot is expected from the octet namely Gambia, Djibouti, Mauritius, Sao Tome e Principe, South Sudan, Seychelles, Chad and Liberia jostling for places at the next stage that will give birth to the 24 teams for the finals in Cameroon in 2021.

Fresh from their heroic exploits at the preliminary round of the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Djibouti, guided by Frenchman Julien Mette, will be hoping to rewrite another chapter when they host Gambia on Wednesday in Djibouti City.

Mette steered Djibouti to a 2-1 aggregate win over Eswatini in the World Cup qualifiers, their first victory since March 2017, and are buoyed for yet another giant-killing effort against a Gambia side that has been a pale shadow of themselves under new coach Tom Saintfiet.

“The party is over” according to 37-year old Mette, who insists his charges are primed for the test against the Gambian scorpions.


“I dedicate days and weeks to watch their videos. I know them (Gambia) very well. My video analyses help my players a lot. We are more confident to come on the pitch if we know what to expect, and know the strengths and weaknesses of the opponent. I have a plan, but football is unpredictable,” said Mette, who has been coaching since age 20.

In Paynesville, near Monrovia, Liberia will be home to Chad whilst Mauritius battles Sao Tome e Principe in a battle of Islanders in Belle Vue.

Due to renovation works at the Juba National Stadium, South Sudan will host Seychelles in neighbouring Sudan in the city of Omdurman.

The returns legs will take place on 13 October 2019.


Paynesville – Liberia vs Chad


Omdurman – South Sudan vs Seychelles

Belle Vue  – Mauritius vs Sao Tome e Principe

Djibouti  – Djibouti vs Gambia



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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