Windhoek – The 2021 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers proved tough for sides from the Confederation of Southern Africa Football Associations with only three sides making it through.
Only the Comoros, Malawi and Zimbabwe will represent the region at AFCON, which will held in Cameroon.
Namibian football analyst Isack Hamata told The Southern Times Sport this week that the region needed to get its football administration right it hoped to compete with the dominant sides from North and West Africa.
“We need to correct the politics in our football and also ensure that we get as many of our players into foreign leagues where they can be exposed to superior training and facilities,” he said.
Hamata said North and West Africa had the bulk of national team players plying their trade in competitive international leagues and this gave them the edge in continental competitions.
“That said, our football is not necessarily sub-standard. It’s the environment that is an issue,” he added. “If we get that balance right we could go very far. With the little resources we have, we have achieved some success in the past. What if we get our leadership right and mobilise more financial support.”
The Comoros is the fairy tale of the qualifiers, making it to AFCON for the first time while former winners South Africa and Zambia stumbled.
The tiny Indian Ocean island qualified from Group G along with Egypt in a mini-league that also contained Kenya and Togo.
Zimbabwe qualified from Group H behind heavyweights Algeria and ahead of fellow COSAFA members Botswana and Zambia.
On Monday, Richard Mbulu scored after 16 minutes to give Malawi a 1-0 group B victory over Uganda to punch the side’s ticket to AFCON. Malawi went into the game needing a win while a draw would have been enough for Uganda to qualify. In the end it was Malawi that finished second on 10 points behind Burkina Faso on 12 points.
Namibia’s Brave Warriors failed to qualify despite an impressive 2-1 home win in their last game against Guinea. Namibia ended third in group A with nine points behind Mali (13) and Guinea on 11 points. The Confederation of African Football disqualified Chad after the government in N’djamena interfered with the operations of the national soccer association.
South Africa failed to progress after losing their final match 0-2 away to Sudan. The result meant South Africa ended third in Group C with 10 points behind Ghana (13) and Sudan on 12 points. São Tomé and Príncipe finished bottom of the group with zero points.
In group D, Angola finished bottom with just a draw to its name, ending the campaign behind Gabon, the Gambia and the DRC.
Mozambique missed out on qualification after losing to Cabo Verde 0-1 on Tuesday. Mozambique ended bottom of the group on four points while Cameroon finished top with 11 points, Cabo Verde on 10 and Rwanda on six points.
Eswatini were eliminated in Group I with ease as the kingdom only managed to get one point. Senegal topped the group with 13 points followed by Congo with eight and Guinea-Bissau on six.
Lesotho too found the going tough, finishing bottom of Group L with three points. Nigeria topped the group with 14 points ahead of Benin and Sierra Leone on seven and four points respectively.