Monday Aug 16, 2021. 12:00
With less than three weeks to the start of group stage matches in Africa’s 2022 World Cup Qualifiers, eight teams have been hit by the news that they will have to play their ‘home’ matches at neutral venues.
Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Djibouti, Guinea Bissau, Malawi, Mali, Namibia and Niger have all been stripped of home advantage for matches slated to be played in late August and early September, with their proposed venues failing inspections from the Confederation of African Football (CAF).
The changes come after an extensive review last year of stadiums and playing surfaces across Africa, with CAF warning national associations that they would need to upgrade their facilities or risk bans from hosting international matches.
The affected matches are:
– August 31, Central African Republic v Cape Verde, moved to Douala, Cameroon
– August 31, Mali v Rwanda, moved to Agadir, Morocco
– September 1, Guinea-Bissua v Guinea, moved to Nouakchott, Mauritania
– September 1, Niger v Burkina Faso, moved to Marrakech, Morocco
– September 1, Namibia v Congo, moved to Johannesburg, South Africa
– September 5, Djibouti v Niger, moved to Rabat, Morocco
– September 6, Burkina Faso v Algeria, moved to Marrakech Morocco
– September 7, Malawi v Mozambique, moved to Johannesburg, South Africa
The group stage (running from August/September to November) sees 40 teams divided into ten groups of four each, with the top team from each group advancing into the final playoff stage in March next year, when five two-legged ties will determine Africa’s qualifiers for Qatar 2022.