Race to AFCON 2023 intensifies
The bid to secure a place in Africa’s biggest football spectacle, the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations continues this week with some eye-catching encounters as African nations prepare to put their best foot forward to seal a place in the continental showpiece set for Cote d’Ivoire next year.
A total of 44 nations will be in action over the week of March 22-24, with some nations looking at extending their leads, while others look to regain ground in the race to qualification.
Three-time African champions, Nigeria, welcome Guinea Bissau to the Abiola Stadium in Abuja, where they will be aiming at stretching their lead at the top of Group A, following their victories over Sao Tome and Principe and Sierra Leone.
The Stallions of Burkina Faso, who currently occupy top spot in Group B, play host to a bruised Togo side, who are looking for their first victory of the qualifiers following their loss to Cape Verde that was followed by a share of the spoils with Eswatini.
Concluding the group B action will be Cape Verde, who continue to be on a steady rise in African football. They welcome a resilient Eswatini side, who are equally and gradually outgrowing being pushovers on the continent.
Five-time African champions, Cameroon, face Burundi in their first Group C assignment, following their walkover result over Kenya as they sit top of the group. The East Africans on the other hand secured a valuable away point to Namibia and will be looking at building from that result and unseating the Indomitable Lions from the summit of the group.
Egypt, who find themselves in a precarious position at the bottom of Group D as a result of goal-difference, welcome Malawi to the Cairo International Stadium, while Guinea play host to a high in confidence Ethiopia in a match set to be played at the Mohammed V Complex Stadium in Casablanca, Morocco.
A top of the table clash awaits Group E as Ghana welcome Angola, who are equal on points with the Black Stars and will be looking at causing an upset in Kumasi’s Baba Yara Sports Stadium.
The newly-built, Nelson Mandela Stadium in Algeria’s capital of Algiers sees Group F table toppers, Algeria, welcoming second placed, Niger, in what promises to be an action-packed encounter, while the Ugandan Cranes are looking at climbing out of the danger zone as they play host to Tanzania in a match set to be played at Egypt’s Suez Canal Stadium in Ismailia.
In Group J, a North African battle looms as group leaders, Tunisia, travel to Libya for what promises to be a tough encounter between the two sides at the Martyrs of Benina Stadium.
An interesting battle in Group K sees Liberia taking on South Africa in a must-win match for both sides who lost against table toppers, Morocco. Both sides understand that a victory sets them up for a strong chance of a second-placed finish of the group, which subsequently secures them a ticket to Cote d’Ivoire.
To conclude the round of qualifiers, reigning African champions, Senegal, is looking at maintaining their 100 per cent-win record in Group L when they take on Mozambique at the Me Abdoulaye Wade de Diamniadio Stadium in Dakar. – CAF Online