The race towards the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire is shaping up nicely as six teams have so far confirmed their places in the flagship tournament following the recent round of qualifiers over the past seven days.
Holders Senegal, Tunisia, South Africa, Morocco and Burkina Faso have joined hosts The Elephants in the line up for the tournament which has now been confirmed to start in January 2024.
Here is a round-up of matches played in Matchday Three and Four of the qualifiers for the competition to be held in Cote d’Ivoire.
A three-way battle remains for the two qualification slots heading into the last two rounds of matches. Leaders Nigeria (nine points) beat Guinea Bissau 1-0 in the reverse fixture to remain on the apex, with the latter in second spot (seven points).
Sierra Leone are third (five points) after beating Sao Tome and Principe 2-0 and remain in contention for a place in the final tournament. Sao Tome have been eliminated as they are bottom with a point.
Burkina Faso have already sealed their place in the tournament as they needed just a point in their last match against Togo. They drew 1-1 to move to 10 points and attain an unassailable lead from third place.
The Togolese are bottom with two points but still with a mathematical chance as they are five points behind second placed Cape Verde who drew with Lesotho who are third. The three teams are all in contention for a place.
Namibia produced the biggest result from this group with a shock 2-1 win over giants Cameroon and are now only a point away from qualification. They lead the group with five points, one ahead of second placed Cameroon.
Burundi are third in the group with a point. They face both Cameroon and Namibia in June and wins in the two games will qualify them to the tournament.
The group has three teams after the exclusion of Kenya.
Heading into the June matches, the group remains open. Egypt and Guinea won both their matches in this last round of matches to lead the group with nine points and the two will qualify if they draw when they meet in June.
Malawi (third) and Ethiopia (fourth) are both on three points after back to back losses and fate is out of their hands.
Ghana, Central Africa Republic and Angola remain in the race for the two qualification slots. Leaders Ghana are on eight points on top of the group, one ahead of CAR after picking four out of a possible six from the last round of qualifiers.
CAR won back to back matches against Madagascar, who remain bottom with one point and have their hopes almost sewn off.
After their fourth straight win, Algeria’s Les fennecs are through to the tournament with an unassailable 12 points. They beat Niger home and away and are also assured of top spot with second placed Tanzania eight points behind.
The Taifa Stars were beaten 1-0 by Uganda in Tuesday’s return fixture, with the Cranes getting themselves back into contention. Bottom side Niger on two points are also in contention.
This group also remains open heading into the final round of matches. Mali’s 1-0 loss at the hands of Gambia away from home meant they will wait for qualification, but still remain top of the group with nine points.
Congo Brazzaville avenged for their shock defeat against South Sudan to beat them in their home fixture in Dar es Salaam, moving to second with six points, same as Gambia but with a better goal difference.
South Sudan are bottom with three points and are still mathematically in contention.
Hosts Ivory Coast are already through, but they remained unbeaten in this group after edging out Comoros 2-0 to move to 10 points. The battle for the single slot to the tournament is now between Zambia (9) and Comoros (3) with winless Lesotho out.
Zambia who beat the latter home and away need just a point in June to confirm their place in the tournament.
All teams are still in the race to qualify. Gabon lead the group with seven points, one ahead of Sudan who revived their hopes by beating the former 1-0 in Omdurman.
Mauritania are third with five points following their home draw against DR Congo. The latter are on four points which they picked from the past match window from the win and draw against the Mauritanians.
Tunisia beat Libya home and away to move to 10 points and claim their ticket to Ivory Coast. They are on 10 points, one ahead of Equatorial Guinea who completed a home and away sweep of Botswana and eliminated them from contention.
They need just a point in their next two matches to qualify. Libya who are on three points have a mathematical chance but fate is not in their hands.
The group is already sewn with Morocco and South Africa confirming their tickets. Morocco had already qualified even before this qualification window as they were on six points.
South Africa booked their spot with a nervy 2-1 win over Liberia in Monrovia, making amends after dropping a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 in the first leg. The group has three teams after the exclusion of Zimbabwe.
Defending champions Senegal swept Mozambique home and away to move to 12 points and confirm their qualification. The battle for the single remaining slot is now left to Mozambique (4), Rwanda (3) and Benin (2).
Rwanda and Benin played to back to back 1-1 draws.