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AFCON

Crunch time as Super Eagles, others jostle for 17 Côte d’Ivoire 2023 tickets

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It’s crunch time and +225 is calling. So far only six teams, have picked the call and earned themselves tickets to the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) joining hosts Côte d’Ivoire for the platinum African football extravaganza next January.

There are 17 more tickets up for grabs with one round of games to be played this international window this week. CAFOnline looks at the groups and the permutations of qualification.

Group A:

There is a three-way battle for two tickets from this group; Nigeria sits top with nine points, Guinea Bissau second with seven while Sierra Leone have five. Bottom placed Sao Tome & Principe have one point and are out of contention.

Leaders Nigeria play away to Sierra Leone, a side they labored to beat 2-1 on match day one and just a draw will guarantee them of a place in the tournament next year.

Sierra Leone are in a must win situation to keep their hopes alive and will look to make the most of their home ground advantage.

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Guinea Bissau will be away to Sao Tome in the other match, and the Djurtus will be angling for maximum points which will give them an edge of qualification especially if Sierra Leone drop points. A win takes them to eight points, and if the Leone Stars lose to Nigeria, there will be a three-point difference.

However, the two sides face off in the last match of the group.

Group B

Burkina Faso, with 10 points in four matches have already secured their place in Côte d’Ivoire and will be playing the final two matches just to ensure a strong finish.

The battle for the only remaining slot from the group has now been left to Cape Verde, eSwatini and Togo. Cape Verde are on seven points, while the latter are on two each, with a slim chance of battling for second spot.

Cape Verde face off with leaders Burkina Faso at home and need just a single point to qualify for the final tournament.

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eSwatini and Togo face play against each other in the other match of the group, and either of the two’s hopes are pegged on winning their last two remaining matches and hope Cape Verde lose both of their final group matches.

Group C

Namibia leads the three-team group with five points, with Cameroon second placed with four while Burundi are third with one with all having chances of qualification.

The Southern Africans travel to play Burundi in their final match of the qualifiers and a point in this duel will be enough to earn them qualification. A win takes Namibia to eight points while a draw takes them to six, both results sailing them through.

Burundi are on a single point and are also in a must win situation to keep their hopes alive. A win puts them on four points, making for a massive showdown against Cameroon in the final round of qualifiers in September.

Cameroon will be uninvolved in this window.

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Group D:

The group is still open, but can be wound up this week. Egypt, losing finalists from Cameroon 2021 lead with nine points, same as Guinea, but with a better goal aggregate.

Malawi and Ethiopia are third and fourth respectively, with three points each.

This week, Guinea and Egypt clash in a top of the table duel in Morocco and a point in the encounter will be enough to assure both teams of a place in qualification. A win for either guarantees them top spot.

Ethiopia hosts Malawi in the other fixture of the group, with the two having an outside chance of qualification. A win for either will take them to six points, and gives them a shot at qualification on the final day as they face either of the two top teams.

A draw in this match though will mean that none stand a chance of qualification heading to the last match day.

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Group E:

In this group, Ghana, the Central Africa Republic and Angola all stand a chance of qualification with Madagascar already eliminated. Ghana leads the group with eight points, CAR second with seven while Angola have five at third.

Angola travel away to second placed CAR while Ghana will be away to Madagascar in Antananarivo.

Ghana and CAR will both qualify for the tournament with victories in this round.

Angola are in a must win situation against the Central Africans, but a draw will also buy them hope into the last day of the group.

Group F:

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Algeria have already qualified to the Cup of Nations from this group, with a perfect record of four wins in four matches. The battle for the remaining slot is now down to East African neighbors Tanzania and Uganda as well as Niger.

Second placed Tanzania with four points host Niger at the National Stadium in Dar es Salaam and a win will take them closer to Côte d’Ivoire. Niger, who are on two points bottom of the group are in a must win situation, while a draw will also bid them hope.

In Douala, Cameroon, Uganda will be hosting two-time champions Algeria. The Cranes who are on four points must win the match against Les Fennecs to retain hope. A win takes them to seven points and if Tanzania drop points against Niger, the Ssebos will only need a point in their last match to qualify, if they win in Douala on Sunday.

Group G:

This group is also widely open. Mali leads with nine points and will only need a draw when they play away to second placed Congo in Brazzaville to qualify.

The Congolese are on six points, same as third placed Gambia, but separated by goal difference. Three points will be vital for their qualification as it will firm up their hold on second spot.

Gambia will be away to bottom side South Sudan who are on three points. The Gambians, under the tutelage of Tom Saintfiet will enhance their chances with three points on the road.

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South Sudan must win their home duel to keep hope alive, heading into the final round of qualification. A draw will still give them a minimal chance, depending on how Mali plays with Congo in the top of the table clash.

Group H:

As hosts, Côte d’Ivoire are already qualified for the tournament and the fight for the lone available ticket in this group is down to second placed Zambia and the Comoros. Bottom side Lesotho with one point are already eliminated.

Zambia are on nine points and only need one point when they host Cameroon to confirm their place in the tournament.

Third placed Comoros who have three points play Lesotho away from home and must win to keep their hopes alive. Their fate is however tied to the result between Zambia and Côte d’Ivoire.

Group I:

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Three points separate the top and bottom sides in this group, with all four having a qualification chance. Gabon are top with seven points, Sudan second with six, Mauritania third with five and DR Congo bottom with four.

Leaders Gabon host DR Congo in Franceville, and will qualify for the tournament with victory. DR Congo, with fate out of their hands, are in a must win situation to keep their chances afloat.

Sudan hosts Mauritania in the other group match and a win will be crucial as it will either help them qualify or keep their chances high, depending on the result from the other match. Mauritania can clutch on qualification hope if they can beat the Falcons of Jediane, this taking them to eight points.

Group J:

Tunisia with 10 points have already secured qualification from this group and might be joined by Equatorial Guinea who are on nine. The two sides face off in a top of the table clash in Malabo and the Equatoguineans need just a single point to qualify.

Third placed Libya who are on three points play away to already eliminated Botswana in Francistown. Fate is out of their hands and will need to win on the road and hope Equatorial Guinea suffer defeat for them to remain hopeful heading into the final day.

Group K:

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The three-team group is already wrapped up with Morocco and South Africa assured of qualification, the Atlas Lions being on six points and South Africa on four. Liberia with a single point are out of the equation.

This matchday, South Africa face off with Morocco in Johannesburg, in a battle of supremacy to decide who finishes top of the group. A win for South Africa will move them top pending the last match day between Morocco and Liberia.

The Moroccans will however be assured of finishing top with just a draw from the duel.

Group L:

Reigning champions Senegal have already sealed their place to defend the crown with a 100 per cent record of four wins in four matches. Mozambique who are second on four points, Rwanda third with three and Benin bottom with two are jostling for the remaining ticket from the group.

Benin host Senegal in Cotonou, needing three points by all means to assure themselves of qualification. A win will take them to five points.

Rwanda host Mozambique in Huye and a win will sail them to six points and topple the latter to second place, putting them at a good position of qualification.

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-Cafonline

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

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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