The 2015 Caf U23 Championship billed for Senegal in December acts as qualification to the 2016 Summer Olympics men’s football for the Confederation of African Football, with the top three teams qualifying and the fourth placed finisher playing in a play-off against a team from the Asian Football Confederation.
The Black Meteors will slug it out with the winner between Liberia and Congo in second round and may likely face Samson Siasia’s team in the third round for a ticket to the Caf U23 Championship.
According to Caf, all players participating in the preliminary and final tournament of U23 African Championship shall be born on or after 1 January 1993.
The first edition of the quadrennial African Youth football showpiece was first staged in Morocco in 2011 with Gabon emerging as champions after silencing the hosts in the final.
Meanwhile, Ghana and Tanzania have confirmed their participation in the Cosafa Cup to be held in South Africa next month.
Ghana and Tanzania take the places of Angola and Comoros Islands who chose not to participate in the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) tournament.
“It will be exciting for us to see the new generation of stars from Southern Africa emerge this year for what we are sure will be a another thrilling chapter in the rich history of the Cosafa Cup,” said Chairman of Cosafa Competitions, Timothy Shongwe.
“Not only that, we have invited guests from Ghana and Tanzania who will bring a flavour of west and east Africa respectively. Their participation will liven up the tournament and provide added competition on the field of play.”
The lower eight participating sides according to the February Fifa rankings will compete in the first round, where they will be drawn into two pools each containing four sides.
The top teams in each group will advance to the knockout stage of the tournament, where the six higher-ranked sides will join the tournament from the quarterfinals onwards.
The Cosafa Cup was launched in 1997.
It has given the Cosafa member countries opportunities to increase their international profile and seek further success on other stages, like that of the African Nations Cup finals and the World Cup finals.
The Cosafa Cup enjoys a wide profile, well beyond the borders of its member countries.
Live television coverage, unprecedented for a competition of this nature, takes the event into the homes of people right throughout Africa and also into Europe.
The tournament is one of a kind on the international calendar, given that no other regional event can boast a similar longevity or as wide a reach as the event.
Cosafa member countries are Angola, Botswana, the Comoros Islands, Lesotho Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, the Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
From Times Sports Desk