Harare – Southern Africa teams are fancying their chances of sealing berths in the rescheduled 2021 Africa Cup of Nations heading into the final two qualifiers next week.
The final rounds – which could seal the fate for some and enhance chances for others – take place from March 26 to March 30.
Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe all have their destiny in their own hands, and they will punch their tickets to AFCON in Cameroon if they post positive results in their remaining games.
The Brave Warriors of Namibia are still in with a chance, but they must outfox Chad away and Guinea at home in the space of four days. The Bobby Samaria-coached side will also need other results to go their way in a group that also has Mali.
Namibia are third in their group with three points, seven behind already-qualified Mali and five behind Guinea who are on eight points. Chad anchor the log with a single point.
South Africa’s Bafana Bafana host Ghana in a top of the table clash before hosting Sudan.
Molefi Ntseki’s charges are second in the group with nine points, the same as leaders Ghana but with an inferior goal difference. Sudan are on six points and Sao Tome and Principe are bottom without a win or a draw in the four games played so far.
Madagascar are second in one of the most open qualifying groups with seven points, the same as leaders Cote d’Ivoire, just a point more than Ethiopia and only three ahead of last-placed Niger.
Nicolas Dupuis’ team needs to win both their games against Ethiopia away and Niger at home to qualify for AFCON 2021.
Mozambique, on the other hand, are fighting for the remaining ticket in their group in a tense battle with Cabo Verde and Rwanda, as Cameroon have already sealed their place. Both Mozambique and Cabo Verde are on four points, while Rwanda sit on two.
Zimbabwe’s Warriors play Botswana away and Zambia at home in a grouping that did no favours for Southern African representation at AFCON 2021.
Group leaders Algeria have wrapped up qualification after amassing 10 points and it will be interesting to see who among the Southern African trio join the North Africans in Cameroon. Zimbabwe have five points, Botswana four and Zambia three.
Surprise package the Comoros are second in their group with eight points, same as table-toppers Egypt but with an inferior goal difference.
They need just one win against either Togo or Egypt to secure their passage.
Lesotho, Eswatini and Angola will all harbour slim hopes of squeezing through, and it will take a miracle or two for them to feature at AFCON 2021.
AFCON Qualification Fixtures
24 March: Chad v Namibia, Uganda v Burkina Faso, Ethiopia v Madagascar , S Sudan v Malawi, Rwanda v Mozambique, Guinea v Mali, Sao Tome v Sudan
25 March: Comoros v Togo, S Africa v Ghana, Gambia v Angola, Gabon v DRC, Kenya v Egypt, Botswana v Zimbabwe, E Guinea v Tanzania, Libya v Tunisia, Zambia v Algeria Burundi v CAR, Eswatini v Guinea-Bissau, Niger v Cote d’Ivoire, Cabo Verde v Cameroon, Congo v Senegal, Mauritania v Morocco
26 March: Lesotho v Sierra Leone, Benin v Nigeria
28 March: Tunisia v Equatorial Guinea, Namibia v Guinea, Tanzania v Libya, Sudan v South Africa, Ghana v Sao Tome, Mali v Chad
28 March: Malawi v Uganda, Burkina Faso v South Sudan, Angola v Gabon, DRC v Gambia, Togo v Kenya, Egypt v Comoros, Algeria v Botswana, Zimbabwe v Zambia
30 March: Cote d’Ivoire v Ethiopia, Madagascar v Niger, Guinea-Bissau v Congo, Senegal v Eswatini, Sierra Leone v Benin, Nigeria v Lesotho, CAR v Mauritania, Morocco v Burundi , Cameroon v Rwanda, Mozambique v Cabo Verde