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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Afcon qualifiers: The state of play

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With the penultimate round of Afcon qualifiers taking place in the coming week here’s what you need to know across all 12 groups.

Who’s qualified?

As it stands, seven nations have already booked their place for the main Afcon tournament taking place in January.

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South Africa have also already qualified in Group K after missing out on the last edition. Their last qualifying game is against Morocco who have followed up their historic World Cup campaign by securing their Afcon spot with two games to spare.

Egypt, who hold the record with seven Afcon titles, confirmed that they will have an opportunity to increase that tally after they defeated Guinea this week.

Two other North African giants have booked their spot. Tunisia, who were also at the World Cup in Qatar, have secured qualification and two-time winners Algeria have already wrapped up top spot in their group with four wins out of four.

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Afcon hosts, Cote d’Ivoire, have had no problems negotiating their group and can relax with two group games to spare. Other West African countries that have already qualified include defending champions Senegal and Burkina Faso, who reached the semi-finals of the last tournament.

Who’s nearly qualified?

Nigeria are on the verge of qualifying and avoiding defeat in Sierra Leone on Sunday will confirm it. If they pull that off, it will simultaneously confirm Guinea-Bissau’s qualification.

A draw for Cape Verde this weekend against Burkina Faso would be enough to secure their fourth qualification for the tournament. The same result for Namibia against Burundi will also be enough for them to go to Cote d’Ivoire.

Cameroon are also odds on to qualify, but will have to wait until their game against Burundi in September to confirm it.

In Group E, Central African Republic could qualify for the first time if they beat Angola this Sunday. If they do that, Ghana would just need a draw against Madagascar to confirm a 10th successive Afcon appearance.

Tanzania and Uganda are both still in the running in Group F to go through along with Algeria, but it can only be confirmed in September which of those two will get that spot.

In Group G, Mali can make it nine Afcon tournaments in a row if they beat Congo. In Group J, Equatorial Guinea are only a point away going into Saturday’s game against Tunisia.

Group I is the most tightly fought with all teams still in contention. We’ll have a better idea after Gabon’s game against DR Congo on Sunday followed by Sudan’s meeting with Mauritania on Tuesday.

Who’s not going through?

Unfortunately, some nations have no hope of qualifying going into this week’s penultimate round of fixtures.

Sao Tome and Principe fall into that category, after conceding 19 goals in their four Group A games. Madagascar are also in that bracket along with fellow Southern nations Botswana and Lesotho.

South Sudan’s dreams of making the tournament for the first time were officially ended with their loss at home against Gambia this week.

Liberia are already eliminated in a truncated Group K after Zimbabwe’s Fifa suspension. Kenya also had to deal with a suspension that took them out of the running without a ball being kicked.

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