What’s still to play for on the final day of Afcon qualification? Here’s Goal’s complete weekend preview
Group A Qualification has already been wrapped up here, with Senegal and Madagascar, for the first time, reaching the continental showpiece. The duo meet on Saturday, where a win for the islanders would see them top the group ahead of Aliou Cisse’s West African heavyweights. The first match between the pair—in September—was overshadowed by a deadly stampede at Madagascar’s Mahamasina Municipal Stadium in Antananarivo. Equatorial Guinea and Sudan, both on three points, meet in Omdurman, where the visitors require a draw to avoid the wooden spoon.
Group B Morocco have already qualified, and will definitely top the group with a draw away against already-eliminated Malawi. Cameroon entered the campaign despite qualifying for the tournament as the original hosts, with the results of their matches counting for the other teams. However, Caf’s decision to take the tournament away from the reigning champions and award it to Egypt means that Clarence Seedorf’s Indomitable Lions still need to officially qualify to defend their title. They’ll progress if they avoid defeat at home against the Comoros, who would secure their first Afcon berth with a win in Yaounde.
Group C Gabon are in grave danger of missing out on the Afcon, and they’ll be counting on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang—assuming he doesn’t follow through on threats to retire from international football—to join the camp and fire them to the win they need away in Burundi to leapfrog Les Hirondelles into the top two. Burundi have never before qualified for the continental showpiece, but will join group leaders Mali if they avoid defeat. Expect Les Aigles to clinch top spot when they host point-less South Sudan in Bamako.
Group D Algeria have qualified already as group winners, regardless of their result against The Gambia. The Scorpions, who are another minnow still in with an unlikely chance of progression, could advance if they pull off a major upset in Blida. However, even if the West Africans can defeat Algeria, they’d miss out if Benin beat Togo, who themselves need a victory against Les Ecureuils to advance. Benin, on seven points, are favourites to advance at home against Togo, although expect for a nervy encounter, with the hosts knowing that only a win would guarantee progress.
Group E Qualified Nigeria are group leaders on 10 points, and will confirm top spot with a win at home against minnows Seychelles on Friday. South Africa should already have joined them, but an astonishing failure to beat the islanders in Victoria in October—profligacy in front of goal ensured they were held to a 0-0 draw—means they still must confirm qualification against Libya in Sfax, Tunisia. Bafana Bafana have been inconsistent and frustrating under Stuart Baxter, and must avoid defeat against a Libya side who held them 0-0 in Durban in September.
Group F Group F has already been wrapped up, with Kenya and Ghana qualified for Egypt. The Harambee Stars (seven points) are one ahead of the Black Stars before their meeting in Accra on Saturday, and are yet to concede a goal in the qualifying campaign to date. Ethiopia, on one point, are not in action, as they were scheduled to face Sierra Leone, who were disqualified from the tournament in November due to Fifa’s suspension of the SLFA amidst allegations of government interference.
Group G Everything is still to play for here, where all four teams could yet qualify for the continental showpiece. Zimbabwe lead the pool on eight points, and will qualify with a draw at home against bottom-side Congo-Brazzaville (five), who themselves require a win to advance. Simultaneously, Democratic Republic of Congo (six) host Liberia (seven) where they’ll be desperate to avoid being the biggest side to miss out on the expanded 24-team tournament. The Leopards have struggled to put teams away in the qualifying campaign so far, and know that only a win will do against the Lone Stars.
Group H Group H is done and dusted, with Guinea (11 points) and the Ivory Coast (eight) guaranteed to feature at the Nations Cup. The leaders will confirm top spot with a draw away at the Central African Republic (five), while the Elephants host Rwanda, who have been one of the disappointments of the qualifying campaign, drawing two and losing three of their five matches so far.
Group I Mauritania, ranked 101 in the world, have already booked their place in Egypt after a magnificent campaign in which they’ve capitalised on the stuttering form of both Angola (nine points) and Burkina Faso (seven). The latter, who finished third at the last Afcon, need to beat the group leaders in Ouagadougou to stand any chance of progression. Even that may not be enough if Angola win away in Botswana, although a win for Burkina and a draw for Os Palancas Negras would see the Stallions qualify due to their superior head-to-head record.
Group J Tunisia and Egypt had already secured the top two berths in the group before the latter were named as replacement tournament hosts in January, therefore clinching their automatic qualification as hosts. The giants are both on 12 points heading into their final matches—at home against Eswatini (one point) and away at Niger (four) respectively—with Tunisia leading the standings on head-to-head away goals scored.
Group K Group favourites Zambia are already eliminated following a startling fall from grace, leaving Guinea-Bissau, Namibia (both eight points) and Mozambique (seven)—all sides who appeared set to make up the numbers at the start of the campaign—battling for two berths. Guinea-Bissau, who were first-time qualifiers in 2017, lead the pool and will advance with any result at home against Mozambique if Namibia lose away in Zambia. Namibia would progress with any result providing Guinea-Bissau beat Mozambique, for whom only a win will be enough for a first qualification since 2010.
Group L Despite an underwhelming start to life as Uganda coach, Sebastien Desabre ultimately secured the Cranes’ return to the Afcon with a fairly impeccable qualifying campaign. The group winners are unbeaten and yet to concede a goal, and will look to extend that run away at Emmanuel Amuneke’s Tanzania, who need to better Lesotho’s result to overtake them into second place. Likuena will qualify for their first Afcon with a win away at a Cape Verde side who themselves need a win—and for Uganda to avoid defeat—to reach Egypt.