Nine places are still up for grabs when the final round of qualifying matches for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations take place in September.
A total of 15 countries are already guaranteed a berth, including Ivory Coast, who qualify automatically as hosts.
The 2024 tournament will begin with the opening match at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan on 13 January 2024. The final will take place on 11 February.
With the top two teams from each group progressing, BBC Sport Africa takes a look at how things stand.
- 6 September: Guinea-Bissau vs Sierra Leone
- 10 September: Nigeria vs Sao Tome and Principe
Three-time champions Nigeria are already home and dry, having secured qualification by beating Sierra Leone last time out. But their qualification has been a rollercoaster.
There was the shock loss at home to Guinea-Bissau but also the 10-0 thumping ‘away’ to Sao Tome and Principe, even if the match was played in neutral Morocco.
The question is what the score is likely to be when the Super Eagles play Sao Tome on home soil, where the visitors may arrive a little nervously.
Elsewhere, Guinea-Bissau will aim to win a fourth match in the group stage for the first time ever when they host the Leone Stars.
- 8 September: Burkina Faso vs Eswatini
- 10 September: Togo vs Cape Verde
Burkina Faso booked their place in the finals as long ago as March, while Cape Verde had to wait until June – when they inflicted the Burkinabe’s first group defeat – to qualify for their fourth Nations Cup in the last decade.
The early qualifications will allow both sides’ coaches to experiment in their final games, as both Togo and Eswatini purely play for pride.
- 12 September: Cameroon vs Burundi
Group C is one of three pools in which both qualifying spots are still to be determined. Although Namibia currently lead, they’ll be anxiously hoping the match in Cameroon suits their purposes.
Having qualified only twice this century, the Brave Warriors will go through should there be a winner in Garoua – with Cameroon or Burundi able to guarantee qualification that way.
A draw could also be enough to take Namibia, who have the most goals in the group, through – since the three teams left after Kenya’s disqualification would then finish level on points.
Their goal difference is 6-6, Burundi’s 4-4 and Cameroon’s 3-3 – meaning that a low-scoring draw could eliminate the Indomitable Lions while a high-scoring draw could end Namibian hopes.
- 8 September: Egypt vs Ethiopia
- 9 September: Malawi vs Guinea
Seven-time winners Egypt went into the June fixtures in a commanding position and secured a record-extending 26th appearance at the finals by winning 2-1 away to Guinea.
The draw between Malawi and Ethiopia meant Guinea also made it through a week later without kicking a ball.
- 7 September: Ghana vs Central African Republic, Angola vs Madagascar
The top three teams in the group are fighting for the two available places, with bottom side Madagascar long out of the running.
Angola reignited their hopes last time out by beating CAR with a late winner, meaning that victory at home to already-eliminated Madagascar will secure only their second appearance out of the last five Afcons.
Elsewhere, Ghana just need a draw at home to CAR to make it through, while the visitors – who could have secured qualification with victory at home to Angola last time out – must win to make history.
Even if CAR draw and Angola lose, Angola would qualify thanks to a better head-to-head record against the team they would finish level on eight points with.
- 7 September: Algeria vs Tanzania, Niger vs Uganda
Algeria were the second side to qualify for the 2023 finals, back in March, leaving Tanzania and Uganda to fight for the remaining spot.
The Cranes must win to have any chance of going through, meaning that Tanzania – aiming for a second qualification in four decades – can reach January’s finals if they can stop the Algerians for the first time in the group.
Should Tanzania lose in Annaba, Uganda could leapfrog their rivals into second spot if they can beat a Niger side who held them to a costly draw in Entebbe last year.
- 8 September: Mali vs South Sudan
- 10 September: The Gambia vs Congo
With Mali securing their place last time out by beating Congo, it is left to the Red Devils and The Gambia to battle it out for the final spot.
It should prove to be some contest in Morocco, where the game is being played because The Gambia’s stadium has been deemed unfit to host internationals.
The Scorpions need a point to go through, whereas a Congo win would be enough to take them through because they beat the Gambians in June last year.
- 9 September: Ivory Coast v Lesotho, Comoros vs Zambia
With Ivory Coast qualifying automatically for January’s finals because of their host nation status, Zambia secured the sole available spot by beating the Elephants 3-0 three months ago.
Returning to the finals for the first time since 2015, the 2012 champions can now experiment against Comoros – just as the Ivorians will continue to do when they host Lesotho.
- 9 September: Mauritania vs Gabon, DR Congo vs Sudan
Group I is the only one in which all four teams can still make it through.
Leaders DR Congo appear to have the easiest task, needing to avoid defeat at home to qualify, while Sudan must win away for the first time in the group to have any chance.
Mauritania would be leading the group had they not been deducted a point for fielding an ineligible player against DR Congo (who received a technical 3-0 win) in March.
Off the back of a 3-0 away to Sudan last time out, coupled with Gabon losing their past two matches, coach Amir Abdou’s side will harbour hopes of reaching a third straight Nations Cup – with Mauritania having never qualified before the 2019 finals.
- 6 September: Libya vs Equatorial Guinea
- 7 September: Tunisia vs Botswana
Group J was wrapped up in June as Equatorial Guinea beat already-qualified Tunisia 1-0 to secure a second straight Afcon qualification – a first for the central Africans.
The sole remaining issue to be decided is who will top the group, with Tunisia – who have won both of their home matches – likely to put pressure on their Equatoguinean rivals.
- 9 September: Morocco vs Liberia
In another group reduced to just three active teams, following Zimbabwe’s disqualification because of a Fifa ban which has now ended, Morocco secured qualification after winning their first two matches.
The 1976 champions – and 2022 World Cup semi-finalists – were joined by South Africa in March as Bafana Bafana saw off Liberia’s limited threat.
- 9 September: Mozambique vs Benin, Senegal vs Rwanda
Defending champions Senegal won their opening four games to secure qualification, leaving Mozambique and Benin to fight for second place.
Benin’s sole ‘victory’ in the group came after they were awarded a technical win when Rwanda fielded an ineligible player against them in March.
The Squirrels need to accumulate maximum points to qualify but Mozambique will derive confidence from their previous victory over their opponents, winning 1-0 in Cotonou last year.
Rwanda can no longer qualify.
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Publish date : 2023-09-04 13:02:41