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2019 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers

Road to Cameroon: AFCON 2019 Qualifiers Preview, Part Two

A preview of the eleven matches that will be played this Friday in the 2019 AFCON Qualifiers.

Eleven matches will be played across the continent this Friday, October 12, 2018 as different nations hunt for a slot in Cameroon come 2019.

Cameroon vs Malawi

Cameroon will be desperate to give their new coach Clarence Seedorf something to cheer about when they face off with the Flames of Malawi at Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium for a Group B clash of the qualifiers.

In his second game at the helm of the Indomitable Lions, Seedorf will be determined to stun Malawi in the teams’ attempt to bounce back from the failure to make to World Cup in Russia.

Cameroon are at the top of the group with four points after two games while Malawi, who lost 0-3 to Morroco in their second match, are third with three points.

The Flames will be missing the services of several of the key players:  Gerald Phiri, Gastin Simkonda and Rightious Banda due to injuries.

On their side, Cameroon will be without Captain Benjamin Moukandjo, who has announced his retirement from International football. However, Seedorf has been able to recall Christian Bassogog after the China-based striker missed the fixture against Comoros in September.

Both nations have met four times in the history of football and Cameroon logically emerged victorious on two occasions with two other games ending in a draw.

The last confrontation between the two sides was 23 years ago at the 1996 AFCON qualifiers with the Indomitable Lions getting a salient 1-3 away victory.

Cameroon are competing in Group B, but already secured a spot as hosts and their results won’t be counted.

Gabon vs South Sudan

Gabon will host South Sudan in a Group C match at the Stade d’Angondjé in Libreville in what will be Daniel Cousin’s first match in charge of Panthers. Cousin, who was named as the central African nation sole coach after Pierre-Francois Aubameyang, father of Arsenal star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang refused to accept the offer, knows too well what is expected of him and will be looking to get the team back to its winning ways.

South Sudan too have had their fair share of challenges in the qualifiers, but they are expected to put on considerable performances in their match. They lost to Mali in their last group encounter and will be looking to bounce back.

Their coach, Ramsey Sebit, said before departure to Gabon that the team is in high spirits for the encounter with a must-win standing in their face if they are to bring back their hope for qualifying for the first time.

“The preparation is moving on well. I hope that we can get a point from that game. But as you know football is a game of mistakes but now with the moral of the players being high, I expect we will get one point from Gabon.”

Meanwhile, coach Sebit is expected to rotate his squad as injuries and fatigue are likely to hamper his side. The Bright Stars will be without midfield stalwart Robert Wurube for the clash in Libreville after the 24-year-old was forced off early in a Uganda Premier League midweek game and he is expected to be out for some time.

Gabon have within their ranks a pacy frontline and coach Cousin will be relying on the likes of Johan Lengoualama, Kevyn Aboue Angoue and Cedric Ondo Biyoghe to make the difference on the day.

Ivory Coast v Central Africa Republic

Ivory Coast will be engaged on Friday when they host Central Africa Republic in their third round of Group H of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers at the Stade Bouake.

The Elephants beat Rwanda 2-1 in their previous qualifier away in Kigali last month. They took a two-goal lead through Jonathan Kodjia and Max Gradel and were able to see out the win despite a late effort from the hosts.

However, it will be a different game against CAR, who have had an ill-preparation after the Sports Minister made it clear there was no money to foot some of the bills needed for an organized residential camp.

Valencia midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia has since boosted CAR after his arrival having recently swapped allegiances from France. The 25-year-old was eligible to make the switch under FIFA statutes and could be set to make his debut on Friday.

Foxi Kethevoama will captain the team and it is likely some of the three local-based players, who were handed a call-up into the Beasts, would earn their first cap for CAR.

The Raoul Savoy’s men are currently third in the group standings, with their opponents in the second, having accumulated three points.

CAR lost their last outing to group leaders Guinea by a solitary goal and will need nothing but a win against Ivorians, who have a good record in their backyard.

There have been no significant changes to the Ivory Coast squad since the last qualifier, although Max Gradel is a surprise omission. An interesting duo of Wilfred Zaha and Jonathan Kodjia will be the center of attraction in the game.

Nigeria and Libya

Nigeria welcome Libya to Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo for their third Group E fixture, as they look to build on their 3-0 victory over Seychelles away in September.

Libya are currently on the top of the group log, with four points after two rounds of games, having secured a commanding 5-1 victory over Seychelles in their opening match and a draw which was against second-placed South Africa.

Once again, the Super Eagles will be missing the services of Captain John Mikel, who is making attempts to regain his fitness after being sidelined with an injury.

The Libyans are under new coach Omar Al-Maryami who took over three days ago after Belgian tactician Adel Amrouche resigned due to non-payment of six months’ salary.

Looking at the head-to-head record between the two teams, Nigeria comes on top and are clear favorites for this tie. Both have met three times, with the three games going the way of Nigeria.

The Super Eagles last defeated Libya 1-0 to secure their first win of the 2018 Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) earlier in the year.

Angola vs Mauritania

Angola will be looking for the second successive win in their road to Cameroon when they host Mauritania at Estádio 11 de Novembro.

The Sable Antelopes won 1-0 win over Botswana in their second game in their Group I campaign in September.

As a result, Angola are placed third in the group standings with only three points. They began their campaign in July last year with a 1-3 loss to leaders Burkina Faso.

Angola head coach Srđjan Vasiljević will be keen to lead the antelopes to victory at home.

Meanwhile, Mauritania thrashed Burkina Faso 2-0 in their second game in Group I at home in June 2017.

The win took the Al Murabitun to the top of group standings with six points from the two matches.
Algeria vs Benin

1990 Africa Cup of Nations champions, Algeria, will be the favorites to win the game though they narrowly escaped a Gambia scare in their second game of Group H.

The Desert Foxes head into the clash at Mustapha Tchaker Stadium on top of the group, having accumulated four points from their opening two matches.

Though the Djamel Belmadi’s men have endured a torrid time in their recent fixtures, many will expect them to have enough to grab maximum points.

Algeria boasts the best talent for the match in the name of 2016 Africa Player of the year Riyad Mahrez who is expected to form a potent attack alongside Yacine Brahimi and Islam Slimani.

In their last outing, Benin played out a draw as they were held goalless away by Togo. It was a drab contest with very few chances as the visitors could only muster one shot on target in 90 minutes.

They were the tactically superior side, but they desperately lacked some cutting edge. However, the coaches have been working on that before they face the Desert Foxes.

Algeria and Benin have met in eight previous internationals, according to FIFA’s statistics database. The Desert Warriors have claimed six wins compared to one for the Squirrels, while two games have been drawn.

The teams’ most recent meeting was a 2014 World Cup qualifier in June 2013 which was won 3-1 by the North Africans.

Egypt vs Eswatini

afcon-2019-qualifiers2Egypt will chase a second straight win in Group J when they host Eswatini (Swaziland) at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria, kick-off at 15h00 CAT.
Egypt sit second on the pool standings following their 6-0 win over Niger in September.

Swaziland are third having drawn with Niger away from home in their first match, before falling to a 0-2 defeat at home to group leaders Tunisia last month.

The seven-time Africa Cup of Nations will be missing the services of Al Ahly forward, Salah Mohsen, who has been ruled out due to an injury.

Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah is expected to captain the side on Saturday. Salah has been in fantastic form for his English Premier League club and should line up in attack alongside Ahmed Hassan and Sam Morsy, both of whom have also impressed lately.

Sihlangu are expected to miss their key man, Felix Fela, who failed to travel with the team due to unexplained reasons.

Cape Verde vs Tanzania

Tanzania will target an away win over Cape Verde when the teams meet for a Group L match in Praia.

The Taifa Stars are placed third on the group log, level on one point with Lesotho; while Cape Verde are at the bottom of the group with one point.

Their hosts, Cape Verde, have had a disappointing campaign so far as they are yet to secure a win after two matches. They have also scored just one goal during the qualifiers and are currently bottom of the group with one point.


Guinea vs Rwanda

Guinea will aim to extend their good run in the Group H when they host Rwanda at Stade du 28 Septembre in Conakry.

The Syli Nationale are top of the top with six points and their good form and should secure a comfortable win on Friday.

In their second group fixture in September, they beat the Central Africa Republic by a solitary goal while Rwanda lost 1-2 at home to Ivory Coast.

Amavubi are the ones currently sitting at the bottom of the group without a single point yet and will need nothing but maximum points to keep their hopes alive.

Despite their poor run, Rwanda have a fearsome forward line of Jacques Tutisenge and Meddie Kagere. The pace and movement of all three men should be too much for the likes of Issiaga Sylla and Florentin Pogba in the Guinean defense.

Speaking to Ducor Sports ahead of the match, Tuyisenge has insisted that Amavubi have what it takes to overcome Guinea.

“Morale is high in the team since landing in Guinea, we are going to keep preparing for the game, mentally and tactically.”

“We will have to be cautious in defense and at the same time press hard for goals.”

Guinea and Rwanda have met in two previous internationals, according to FIFA’s statistics database. The Syli Nationale have claimed one win, while one game has been drawn.

Mali v Burundi

Mali will be eyeing for their third consecutive win Group C win when they meet Burundi in the third match on the road to Cameroon.

The game is set to take place at the Stade Du 26 Mars in Bamako, Mali.

The Eagles were ruthless in their last fixture as they claimed an emphatic 3-0 victory over South Sudan.

As a result, Mali are placed at the top of group standings with six points, having been one of the few teams that enjoyed 100% percent record so far in the qualifiers.

Meanwhile, Burundi sit second on the group with two points as in their last game they were able to hold Gabon 1-1 in their backyard. Stoke City’s Saido Berahino scored the lone goal for Burundi and many expect him to perform much better on Friday in his second match for his newly adopted country.

Mali head coach Mohamed Magassouba will be keen to lead the Eagles to victory at home, though he will be fielding a depleted side that will be missing the services of their skipper Yacouba Sylla.

Sylla has been struggling for consistency at his club Mechelen, while his compatriot Adama Traore was also dropped as he has been battling for game time at Monaco.

Togo vs the Gambia

Togo welcome Gambia to the Stade Municipal Lome for their third Group D fixture in the 2019 African Cup of Nation qualifiers.

Kick-off is at 20h00 CAT (EA, GMT+3)

The Hawks currently sit at the bottom of the group with one point from the two matches and could take a huge step in their quest of booking a spot at next year’s showpiece with a victory on home soil.

Their opponents, the Gambia, currently are third in the group log with one point while Algeria and Benin tie at the top.

Former Gambia captain Omar Colley will be among the key names missing after he was omitted from the traveling squad by Belgian coach Saintfiet.

Reading winger Modou Barrow, who pulled out of the squad that faced Algeria for family reasons, will also not feature for the team as well as midfielder Hamza Barry.

Togo will be looking to their front three of Emmanuel Adebayor, Floyd Ayité and Gilles to provide the spark in attack. All three men are quick and tricky and should have better quality against Dawda Ngum and Faye Njie in the Liberia defense.

Muhammed Mbye appears to be the biggest attacking threat for the Gambia and is likely to start as the lone man up front. The striker could, however, struggle to get past Djené Dakonam Ortega and Hakim Ouro-Sama at the back for Togo.

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