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AFCON

Road to Cote d’Ivoire 2023 charted for 18 other aspiring teams

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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.

Group A

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).

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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.

Group B

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.

Group C

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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.

Group D

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.

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Malawi (third) and Ethiopia (fourth) are both on three points after back to back losses and fate is out of their hands.

Group E

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.

Group F

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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.

Group G

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.

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South Sudan are bottom with three points and are still mathematically in contention.

Group H

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.

Group I

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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.

Group J

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.

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Group K

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.

Group L

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).

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Rwanda and Benin played to back to back 1-1 draws.

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.

AFCON

Nigeria’s AFCON 2025 fixtures almost in same pattern with World Cup qualifiers

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Confederation of African Football (CAF)  has now released the full fixtures of the qualifying series for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations.

The fixtures for the Nigerian team is almost in the same pattern with that of the 2026 World Cup qualification which has seen the Super Eagles wobbling.

Like that of the World Cup, the Super Eagles will begin their quest for qualifcation for AFCON with a home game in Uyo as they will host Benin Republic.

As it was in the World Cup, they will then head to Rwanda. Last November, their second match was played in Rwanda which hosted Zimbabwe home match. This time the Super Eagles will be facing Rwanda, the same team they will meet when the World Cup qualification series resume in March next year.

On Match Day 3, the Super Eagles will host Libya and will have the reverse fixture immediately after that of Match Day 3.

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Later they travel to Benin for Match Day 5 before hosting Rwanda on the last match day.

The Fixtures

  • September 2 – Nigeria vs Benin Republic; Libya vs Rwanda
  • September 6 – Rwanda vs Nigeria; Benin Republic vs Libya
  • October 11 – Nigeria vs Libya; Benin Republic vs Rwanda
  • October 16 – Libya vs Nigeria; Rwanda vs Benin Republic
  • November 11 – Benin Republic vs Nigeria; Rwanda vs Libya
  • November 15 – Nigeria vs Rwanda; Libya vs Benin Republic

The top two teams qualify for AFCON 2025

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AFCON

Rohr roars warning to Benin; Nigeria, Rwanda will not be easy

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

Former Nigeria manager, Gernot Rohr now handling Benin Republic has warned The Cheetahs of Benin not to expect an easy match when the team meet Rwanda and Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers later this month.

 Last month, he led his team to defeat both Rwanda and Nigeria in World Cup qualifying duels in Abidjan, where Benin Republic are compelled to play their home matches following inadequate facilities at home.

 Benin’s 1-0 defeat of Rwanda was Rohr’s first victory with the team. Days later, he followed up with a 2-1 defeat of Nigeria, the first Benin Republic victory in over 65 years.

 Those wins have put Benin in the frame of possible qualification for the World Cup. They are now to meet Nigeria and Rwanda again in World Cup qualifiers.

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 It won’t be easy, remarked Rohr.  Hear the Franco-German as he spoke in French but translated into English for the Sports Village Square: “From September we will play against Nigeria before facing Libya and Rwanda.  

“These are three difficult opponents.  We had already played Rwanda and Nigeria but be careful, it’s not because we won Rwanda and Nigeria that it will be easy matches.

“ We know that it is possible to achieve good performances again.  We know that Nigeria with its great players will want to take revenge against us.

“ I think it will probably be an interesting match in Uyo before continuing against Libya.  I suppose in Abidjan because in September the Mathieu Kerekou friendship stadium  will not be ready.  

“Everything will be decided in three months in September, October and November.  It’s a difficult group but it’s playable.  

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“You have to finish in the top two.  We had a team that is becoming solid, where the players are like brothers, accomplices.  I hope we will recover the players who were absent.  We are confident.”

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AFCON

Coaches react after intriguing Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers Draw

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The journey towards qualification to the  Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2025 shifted a gear higher on Thursday, after CAF officially conducted the draw of the qualifiers in Johannesburg South Africa.

A total of 48 nations will vie for the 24 places that will contests the 35th edition of Africa’s most prestigious competition.

This is what some of the coaches has to say in reaction to the draw outcomes.

Emerse Fae, Cote d’Ivoire coach

“I am satisfied because we are going to play against Zambia, a team that we know very well. In our last qualifying campaign, we lost against them. We know what mistakes to avoid.

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“I am also satisfied because I did not want to have countries geographically far from Cote d’Ivoire which will lessen the travel load. That said, in Africa, there are no longer small teams. All the teams will want to challenge us because we are the reigning champions”

Leslie Notši

“The draw is very interesting because when you have the host in your group, it means they qualify automatically for the tournament, and you have to double your efforts to secure the remaining qualification spot which will be contested by the three other teams in the group.

“We will work very hard to see to it that we are competitive side and try as much as we can to get maximum points in matches against countries that are with us in our group. It will be very important to do well in our home games and I know all eyes will be on “Morocco as the hosts and a powerhouse in our group. We will draw inspiration from recent games where we played the likes of Nigeria as well as Cote d’voire and were able to frustrate them”

Amir Abdou, Mauritania Coach

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“Quite a complicated draw. Egypt will be the big contender for qualification. They have a good track record that speaks volumes.

“Seven times African champions – that’s no small thing. We also have Cape Verde who eliminated us during the last AFCON.

“This team is made up of many quality players. We have Botswana, they are having a good qualifying campaign for the World Cup. We have a pretty strong group. It’s up to us to believe in ourselves. We will do everything we can to achieve our fourth participation in the AFCON”.

Kévin Nicaise, Chad coach

 “We are already having the reigning African champions facing the last qualified team in the FIFA rankings. These will definitely be very difficult matches played at high intensity. We will fight to defend our nation’s pride. The group remains relatively open, and we will approach these qualifications with humility and ambition”.

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 Badou Zaki, Niger coach

“We have every chance of qualifying. For me, Ghana is a football country with a team that is blessed with great professionals. But this is not the team of 5 or 6 years ago. Even at home, they can lose.

“Angola had a good showing at the last AFCON with their beautiful, modern and fast football. It’s a team that shook up the big teams in Cote d’Ivoire.

“I know Sudan very well. They are first in their World Cup qualifying group. They are going to be dangerous, but we know our strengths and we know we can go far”

-CAF

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