Nigeria, Ghana headline Sunday’s qualifiers

Nigeria, Ghana headline Sunday’s qualifiers
Amadou Bakayoko of Sierra Leone challenges Semi Ajayi of Nigeria during the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying football match between Nigeria and Sierra Leone held at the Abuja National Stadium in Abuja, Nigeria on 9 June 2022 ©Kabiru Abubakar/BackpagePix

by Graeme Jackson

Sunday Jun 18, 2023. 11:00

West African heavyweights Nigeria and Ghana will headline Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying action, while Congo and Mali will have a crunch clash in Brazzaville.

Nigeria will be in Group A action in the early evening when they battle Sierra Leone in Monrovia (due to a lack of CAF-approved venues in the latter country) and look to complete a double over their fellow West Africans, having claimed a come-from-behind 2-1 win when the teams met on Matchday 1 in Abuja a year ago.

A win or draw for the Super Eagles would secure qualification – both for them and table-toppers Guinea-Bissau, who defeated Sao Tome & Principe in midweek to leapfrog to the top of the standings.

Ghana will headline the afternoon matches with their trip to Antananarivo to take on Group E rivals Madagascar, as they look to complete a ‘double’ over the Barea following a 3-0 triumph when the teams met at Cape Coast a year ago.

Group F is set for a tense scenario with two matches in which Tanzania tackle Niger in Dar es Salaam and already-qualified Algeria face Uganda in Douala. The Taifa Stars and the Cranes are level on four points apiece in second and third place respectively, and have even head-to-head records. Will one of the East African sides take a key step toward qualification, or will Niger roar back into contention?

Another tense match is set to come from Group G, with Congo hosting Mali at Stade Alphonse Massemba-Débat. The Eagles are tied at the top of the log with Gambia (who claimed a dramatic 3-2 away win over South Sudan in midweek) on nine points – a draw or better will see Mali qualify, but defeat brings the Red Devils right back into contention.

Group B could be decided if Cape Verde can avoid defeat in Praia against already-qualified Burkina Faso in an early-evening clash, but even that may be unnecessary if Eswatini and Togo, who meet at the Mbombela Stadium in South Africa in an earlier fixture, play to a draw.

Sunday also features Rwanda hosting Mozambique in a Group L match in Butare, as well as Gabon looking to seal qualification from Group I with a win against DR Congo in Franceville. However, an away triumph for the Leopards would throw the group wide open ahead of Sudan and Mauritania’s meeting on Tuesday.

AFCON qualifying fixtures, Sunday 18 June

All times CAT

15:00: Rwanda v Mozambique

15:00: Tanzania v Niger

16:00: Madagascar v Ghana

17:00: Eswatini v Togo

17:00: Uganda v Algeria

18:00: Cape Verde v Burkina Faso

18:00: Congo v Mali

18:00: Sierra Leone v Nigeria

20:00: Gabon v DR Congo

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