2021 AFCON qualifiers kick-off

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The 2021 African Cup of Nations qualifiers is set to begin this week on November 13, 2019, with forty-eight nations fighting for 24 slots in the 2021 tournament. Each of the teams will play two matches between this Wednesday and Tuesday next week (November 19).

The other matches will be in August, September, October and November 2020. The biennial international men’s football championship of Africa qualifiers started with a preliminary round in October. The round consisted of 8 teams which were lowly ranked by the world governing football body FIFA in June.

The teams were Gambia, Chad, Liberia, Mauritius, Djibouti, South Sudan, São Tomé and Príncipe and Seychelles. After a home and away two-legged matches, the four teams advanced to the group stage to join the 44 teams which entered directly.  Chad overpowered Liberia; South Sudan stunned Seychelles, Sao Tome &Principe overcame Mauritius and Gambia outsmarted Djibouti.

The 48 countries have been divided into 12 groups of four teams each. Group A consist of Namibia, Mali, Guinea and Chad, Group B Malawi, Burkina Faso, Uganda and South Sudan and Group C has Ghana, South Africa, Sudan and Sao Tome&Principe.

Gambia, Gabon, DRC and Angola of Group D, Morocco, Burundi, Mauritania and Central Africa make Group E whereas Group F has 2017 champion Cameroon, Mozambique, Rwanda and Cape Verde. Seven times champion Egypt was pitted against Kenya, Togo and Comoros Island in Group G.

Algeria will battle it with Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique to top group H. Group I constitute of Senegal, Congo, Eswatini and Guinea Bissau, Group J Libya, Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea and Tunisia, K Ethiopia, Madagascar, Ivory Coast and Niger and finally Group L consist of Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Lesotho and Benin.

The two top teams per group will automatically qualify for the 33rd edition tournament that will be held in Cameroon between June 24 to July 23, 2021.  The 2019 champions and runners up Algeria and Senegal will open their matches at home ground against Zambia and Congo respectively.