The five African representatives at the 2018 World Cup might have left Russia early but they are making light work of qualifying for Cameroon 2019.
Egypt, Tunisia and Senegal have already booked their places in Afcon next year after just four matches.
Nigeria’s run of three consecutive wins in Group E, aided by six goals from Odion Ighalo, means the Super Eagles need only a point from their final two games, which includes a home match against minnows Seychelles, to progress.
Morocco stuttered against Comoros (2-2) on Tuesday but need only a win from their final two games to secure qualification.
History Makers Madagascar!
After 18 failed attempts Madagascar have finally made it to the continental showpiece, and they did it in style in a very difficult group.
Perhaps inspired by the memory of the fan who died in a stampede during the earlier Afcon encounter against Senegal or the fact that one of their own is in charge at CAF headquarters, Madagascar have made a mockery of the pundits who had them finishing last in Group A before the race to Cameroon began.
Take into consideration that they had to qualify for the group stages through a preliminary round (versus São Tomé and Príncipe).
Madagascar’s place in the 24-team finals is well deserved.
Mauritania Set To Join The Party!
Having accumulated nine points from four games Mauritania are set to become the next debutant to qualify for the 2019 Afcon.
They will achieve that with a home win over already eliminated Botswana in November.
That will mean one of the Group’s favourites in either Angola or Burkina Faso will be watching the continental tournament from the sidelines next year.
The two teams face off in November in Luanda, with the hosts knowing a win is a must to keep their chances alive going into the final round.
East and central African representation at the continental showpiece could potentially be five when the dust settles on the qualifiers in March.
Uganda top Group L with 10 points and will qualify if they are not beaten by an inconsistent Cape Verde in their next encounter.
A win for Uganda, however, will gift fierce regional rivals Tanzania a chance to join them if they can beat Lesotho away from home in November.
The permutations of Group F depend on whether Sierra Leone’s ban is permanent and they are removed from the group, reducing it to three teams. If so Kenya will already be through (because they will remain on seven points, having lost to Sierra Leone in their opening match).
Ethiopia will face Ghana in Addis Ababa in November with the outcome of that game going a long way to deciding the top two.
Burundi also have a outside chance to qualify but will need to beat South Sudan (away) and Gabon (home) in their final two games.
Anyone’s Guess In Group K!
Four games in and all four teams from Group K can still qualify for the Afcon tournament next year.
Namibia’s win over Mozambique in round four has put them in the driving seat with a home game against table-toppers Guinea-Bissau to come in November.
The Namibia/Mozambique result was welcomed in Lusaka as it kept Zambia’s hopes alive.
Chipolopolo still have a lot to do with an away game to come in Maputo but at least they are not out of it yet. Expect this group to be decided on the final day of qualifiers.