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AFCON

Zambia beat Cote d’Ivoire to secure AFCON qualification, Angola keep hope alive

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Zambia secured a ticket to the  CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Cote d’Ivoire 2023, after beating the already qualified hosts 3-0 at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola on Saturday.

Patson Daka and Kings Kangwa’s second half goals added on to a Serge Aurier own goal in the first half, as Avram Grant’s Chipolopolo stormed into the tournament in style. The victory at home pushed Zambia to 12 points top of Group H with one match remaining, two ahead of the Ivorians.

The group is now closed, as only one team could progress from there. The 2012 champions are making a return to the tournament for the first time since 2015 after missing the last three editions.

Powered on by a full capacity crowd in Ndola, Zambia started well and had a strong of chances with the forward duo of Patson Daka and Fashion Sakala being a constant threat. They broke the lead on the half hour mark when Aurier scored into his own net after being put under pressure by Daka.

They went to the break with a single goal lead, and on the balance of chances, should have had more.

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They needed just two minutes after the break to double their lead, Daka finding the net with a neat finish. Seven minutes later, it was game over when Kangwa got the third and the Zambians were surely flying into qualification.

The Ivorians attempted to make a response with the final 20 minutes of the game. Ibrahim Sangare had a shot from the edge of the box fly inches over while substitute Max Gradel saw his well weighted freekick tipped over the bar.

Zambia managed to hold on to the score and a clean sheet, announcing their qualification in style.

Meanwhile in the other Group H match played in Johannesburg, Youssouf M’Changama scored a 90th minute goal as Comoros beat Lesotho 1-0 to cement their hold on third spot with six points, though both sides are out of contention for a place in the tournament after Zambia’s win.

Lesotho will finish bottom as they have just one single point following their fourth defeat in the group.

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Central Africa Republic 1-2 Angola

Elsewhere in Douala, Felicio Mendes ‘Milson’ Joao scored four minutes from time, as Angola edged out the Central Africa Republic 2-1 to keep their hopes of qualification alive. The goal saw Angola move second in Group E with eight points, one ahead of CAR.

Both sides were in a must win situation, but it was CAR who had their hearts broken at home in their quest for a first ever qualification to the tournament.

They had to come from a goal down, their superstar skipper Geoffrey Kondogbia equalizing in the second half after Gaspar Kialonga had given Angola an early lead. They also had to finish the match with 10 men after goalkeeper Dominique Junior Youfeigane was sent off in the 70th minute.

Kialonga had given Angola a 12th minute lead, but Kondogbia drew his side level just a minute after the restart, finishing off a pass from Karl Namnganda who had just come on. But, they were heartbroken in the 86th minute when Milson scored from a corner, with substitute goalkeeper Alladoum Kolimba misjudging his flight.

Heading into the final round of matches in September, Angola have fate in their hands and only need to win against bottom side Madagascar to qualify, while the CAR must beat Ghana and hope the Angolans lose.

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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

BREAKING! Nigeria Football Federation is finished with Finidi

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Following the poor run of the Super Eagles in the on going qualifying series for the 2026 World Cup which has seen the Super Eagles languishing almost at the bottom of a group in which they were previously the favourites, the Nigeria football Federation (NFF) that they has relieved Finidi George as the head coach of the national team.

Rising from a crisis-managing meeting, the NFF announced that it has resolved to employ an expatriate Technical Adviser for the Super Eagles in the coming weeks, ahead of the AFCON qualifiers and the remaining FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.

 The deduction is that the tenure of Finidi George has come to an end after two competitive matches as a substantive coach and two others in friendly matches as a caretaker coach.

Also, the NFF resolved to beef up its Technical Department with more qualitative hands. Equally, the Technical and Development Sub-Committee will be re-jigged with immediate effect.

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AFCON

Struggling Super Eagles to know AFCON 2025 qualifying round opponents in three weeks

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It has not been a pleasant outing so far for the Super Eagles in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers. They have another nine months to wait to reset their arsenal.

But while the World Cup qualifying series go on recess, attention now focuses on the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series.

In exactly three weeks’ time, the Super Eagles will know their opponents in the qualification race for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

Next year’s finals, which will be the 35th edition of Africa’s flagship football championship, will be staged by Morocco.

Preliminary stage survivors Chad, e-Swatini, Liberia and South Sudan will join 44 others for the draw that will hold at the SuperSport studios in Johannesburg, South Africa in the afternoon of Thursday, 4th July.

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The 48 countries will be drawn into 12 groups of four teams each, with the top two teams in each pool qualifying directly to the finals in Morocco.

The first two games of the qualification series will take place in the FIFA window in September (2nd – 10th), with two other matches in the window in October (7th – 15th) and the final two games in the November window (11th – 19th).

Nigeria’s Super Eagles are the runners up at the last edition.

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Date and venue fixed for draw for Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2025 Qualifiers

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The journey to the  CAF Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2025 will resume with the draw for the Qualifiers on Thursday, 04 July 2024, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

The draw will be conducted at SuperSport studios in South Africa at 14h30 local time (15h30 Cairo time, 12h30 GMT).

48 Nations, including the four winners from the preliminary round (Chad, Eswatini, Liberia and South Sudan) will be drawn into 12 Groups of four teams each to battle it out for places at the finals.

Headlining the confirmed Nations for the draw are reigning African champions Cote d’Ivoire joined by Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, DR Congo, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eswatini and Ethiopia.

Others include Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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The qualifiers are scheduled to kick-off in September 2024 to determine the first 24 nations that will compete for Africa’s biggest event, the  CAF Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco in 2025.

Fresh from the thrills and successes of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023 where the host nation defied all odds to claim their third title, a line-up of intriguing matches is expected for the journey to the 35th edition of the showpiece continental sporting event.

In attendance will be selected CAF legends, representatives of the participating teams, members of the Local Organising Committee for Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2025 amongst others.

-CAF

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