Monday Oct 07, 2019. 13:00
The first steps the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations finals in Cameroon will be taken in this October international break, with four two-legged preliminary round ties set to complete the group stage line-up.
The first tie is between Liberia and Chad. The former have appeared in two AFCONs (1996 and 2002) and had a decent campaign for the 2019 finals, ending third in their group behind Zimbabwe and DR Congo. Chad, meanwhile, have never reached the Nations Cup finals and missed the 2019 qualification campaign as punishment for withdrawing from the 2017 preliminaries. The winner of this tie will join Mali, Guinea and Namibia in Group A.
The next battle is between South Sudan and the Seychelles. Neither has ever appeared at an AFCON tournament and both finished bottom of their groups in the qualifiers for the 2019 finals. The winner of this tie advances into Group B, alongside Burkina Faso, Uganda and Malawi.
Group C already comprises of Ghana, South Africa and Sudan, with the quartet to be completed by either Mauritius or Sao Tome e Principe. Again, neither side has ever appeared at the Nations Cup finals, while they both fell out of the 2019 qualifiers at this same preliminary round stage: Mauritius were ousted 3-1 on aggregate by Comoros, while Sao Tome e Principe fell 4-2 at the hands of Madagascar, who went on to reach the tournament in Egypt earlier this year.
The final preliminary round tie is between Djibouti and Gambia. Neither has reached an AFCON finals before, with Djibouti beaten 6-2 on aggregate by South Sudan at this same stage of the 2019 qualifiers, while Gambia finished third in their group behind Algeria and Benin. The winner moves into Group D alongside DR Congo, Gabon and Angola.
2021 AFCON qualifiers – preliminary round fixtures
NB – CAF have yet to release finalised fixtures, dates, times, etc.
7-15 October 2019
Liberia v Chad
Chad v Liberia
Winner qualifies for Group A (alongside Mali, Guinea, Namibia)
South Sudan v Seychelles
Seychelles v South Sudan
Winner qualifies for Group B (alongside Burkina Faso, Uganda, Malawi)
Mauritius v Sao Tome e Principe
Sao Tome e Principe v Mauritius
Winner qualifies for Group C (alongside Ghana, South Africa, Sudan)
Djibouti v Gambia
Gambia v Djibouti
Winner qualifies for Group D (alongside DR Congo, Gabon, Angola)