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AFCON

The Four Teams Vying For Two Final Spots –

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Sadiq Umar, Ndidi And Awoniyi Return To Super Eagles As NFF Secure Friendly Duel With Ghana And Mali In Morocco -

The penultimate stage of the  Africa Cup of Nations, Cote d’Ivoire 2023, is set with Nigeria, DR Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, and South Africa emerging as the four semi-finalists in the 34th edition of the continent’s premier sporting event.

Four teams, each with a unique narrative, as analyzed by Cafonline.com:

Nigeria

The Super Eagles stand as the most experienced team at this stage. Making their 16th appearance in a  AFCON semi-final, Nigeria aim for one thing – securing a spot in the final. Despite entering the tournament as favorites, Nigeria faced challenges, notably with a drawn match against Equatorial Guinea. While the focus was on their attacking prowess, the defence proved resilient, conceding only one goal.

Key Stat: José Peseiro’s men are the only team to reach the semi-final without playing extra time.

DR Congo

Anticipation met reality as the Democratic Republic of Congo secured its first victory in the  Africa Cup of Nations, Ivory Coast 2023. Facing Guinea in the quarterfinals, the Leopards displayed strength, overcoming an early goal by the Syli National to win 3-1. This victory marks the fifth time in the history of DR Congo that they have reached the semi-finals of the Cup of Nations.

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Key Stat: Whenever DR Congo won the CAN in 1968 and 1974, they eliminated the host country in the semi-final. In 1968, they beat Ethiopia 2-3 after extra time, and in 1974, Egypt fell by the same scoreline.

Côte d’Ivoire

January 22, 2024, witnessed the Elephants making headlines globally. Almost eliminated after a 4-0 defeat to Equatorial Guinea, they bounced back, eliminating the reigning African champions, Senegal. In a dramatic victory against Mali, Oumar Diakité’s last-minute goal secured their place in the semi-finals. In their ninth semi-final appearance, Côte d’Ivoire faces DR Congo, setting the stage for a rematch of the 2015 semi-final where the Elephants emerged victorious with a 3-1 scoreline in Bata, Equatorial Guinea.

Key Stat: Côte d’Ivoire won their first Cup of Nations match in extra time since the 1992 quarterfinals, which they eventually won.

South Africa

Bafana Bafana returns to the pinnacle, ending a 24-year absence from the Cup of Nations semi-finals. The South Africans impressed, eliminating Morocco, a World Cup semi-finalist, and then adding Cape Verde, previously unbeaten. Their journey continues in the semi-finals, where they face familiar foes.

Key Stat: In their last semi-final appearance, South Africa suffered a 2-0 loss to Nigeria in 2000.

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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

Liberia, Eswatini hold upper hand in AFCON 2025 preliminary qualifiers –

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Liberia, Eswatini Hold Upper Hand In AFCON 2025 Preliminary Qualifiers -

After commanding victories in the first leg matches of the Africa Cup of Nations, Morocco 2025, qualifiers, Chad, Liberia, and Eswatini find themselves in advantageous positions as they gear up for the return fixtures scheduled for Tuesday.

As the second leg of the preliminary fixtures approach, all eyes will be on these teams as they vie for their coveted spots in the group phase of the qualifiers, with the hopes of making their mark on the continental stage.

Chad emerged victorious with a narrow 1-0 win over Mauritius, joining Liberia and Eswatini in the lead after their impressive triumphs earlier last week.

Liberia secured a 2-0 victory against Djibouti, while Eswatini displayed their dominance with a 3-0 win over Somalia.

The second leg promises to be fiercely contested, particularly for Chad, who will face a challenging encounter against Mauritius on the latter’s home turf.

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Coach Kevin Nicaise’s players are keen to defend their slender lead and secure their spot in the next phase of the qualifiers but the trainer admits they have an arduous task.

“We are far from perfect, far from being a top team in the world. We are in the construction phase. There are still things to work on and improve,” coach Nicaise said after their first-leg win.

“It is not overnight that we will be a top team in the world, we are aware of that, however we are working hard with the group and the staff to achieve this goal.”

Meanwhile, Liberia will host Djibouti, aiming to build on their first-leg success and seal their progression to the next round.

Eswatini will host Somalia with confidence, seeking to maintain their winning momentum and secure passage to the next stage of the tournament.

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South Sudan and Sao Tome and Principe will also face off in what is expected to be a closely contested encounter, following their goalless draw in the first leg.

With both teams eager for victory, the match promises to be a thrilling battle for supremacy.

-CAF

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Liberia and Eswatini take control of AFCON preliminary ties

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Liberia and Eswatini take control of AFCON preliminary ties

Liberia and Eswatini took commanding leads in their respective Africa Cup of Nations, Morocco 2025, preliminary round ties after claiming impressive away victories on Wednesday.

Liberia captain Murphy Dorley scored one of two first-half goals as the Lone Stars defeated hosts Djibouti 2-0 in the opening leg in  Marrakech.

Mohammed Sangare broke the deadlock from the penalty spot on 23 minutes before Dorley coolly slotted home Sebastian Teclar’s cross 12 minutes later.

Djibouti struggled to lay a glove on their more illustrious opponents as the Lone Star side kept them at bay to take two away goals into next week’s second leg in Monrovia.

Eswatini were also celebrating after demolishing Somalia 3-0 in the Moroccoan  city of El Jadida to put one foot in the group stage qualifiers.

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Striker Sabelo Ndzinisa was the hero, netting twice either side of Felicio Figuareido’s 40th minute opener for the visitors.

Somalia now face an uphill battle to qualify when they travel to the Mbombela Stadium in the South African city of Nelspruit for the return on March 26th.

The opening leg victories give Liberia and Eswatini a huge advantage heading into the second legs as they target a place in the group stage on the road to next year’s finals in Morocco.

Back from the locker room, Somalia still couldn’t play its game.

Worse, Eswatini widened the gap with Ginindza who scored his double of the evening in the 56th minute. 3-0, the score remained unchanged on the scoreboard until the final whistle.

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Victory for Eswatini which will still have to perform in the return leg to ensure its qualification for the qualifiers.

 

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Road to Morocco 2025 begins today

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Liberia and Eswatini take control of AFCON preliminary ties

Following last month’s grand closing to the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations held in Cote d’Ivoire where the hosts were crowned champions for the third time, Africa’s biggest competition is now shifting its focus to the 35th edition set to be held in Morocco next year.

A total of 52 Nations will be engaged to compete for a place in the 24-nation competition.

To mark the start of the qualifiers following the draw that was held in Cairo on 20 February 2024, eight lowest ranked nations will compete in the Preliminary Qualifiers starting on Wednesday, 20 March over a two-legged format that will decide the four nations that will join the other 44 African nations to make up the group stages of the qualifiers.

The CAF AFCON Morocco 2025 journey officially gets underway on Wednesday, 20 March with two fixtures as Somalia plays host to Eswatini, while Djibouti faces Liberia.

Two days later, Chad locks horns with Mauritius before Sao Tome and Principe takes on South Sudan.

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The return legs will conclude on Tuesday, 26 March with all matches set to take place on the day to officially decide the preliminary phase of the competition.

 

 AFCON Morocco 2025 Preliminary Qualifiers:

First Leg Fixtures:

Wednesday, 20 March 

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  • 18:00 GMT | Somalia – Eswatini
  • 22:00 GMT | Djibouti – Liberia

 

Friday, 22 March

  • 18:00 GMT | Chad – Mauritius
  • 19:00 GMT | Sao Tome and Principe – South Sudan

 

Return Leg Fixtures:

Tuesday, 26 March

  • 13:00 GMT | Eswatini – Somalia
  • 16:00 GMT | Liberia – Djibouti
  • 17:00 GMT | South Sudan – Sao Tome and Principe
  • 15:00 GMT | Mauritius – Chad
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