Nigeria draws Egypt,Tanzania, Chad
Confederation of African Football (CAF) yesterday in Cairo, Egypt, placed Nigeria in Group G of the 2017 African Nations Cup qualifying series, just as it picked 2012 joint hosts, Gabon, to stage the 2017 edition.
At the draws, which was part of the outcomes of CAF 37th Congress, the Super Eagles will battle Egypt, Tanzania and Chad for a place in the Nations Cup, which Nigeria missed this year when it could not qualify from a group comprising South Africa, Congo and Sudan.
Nigeria’s main opponent for the lone Group G ticket, Egypt, won the 2006, 2008 and 2010 editions of the competition, to add to earlier triumphs in 1957, 1959, 1986 and 1998.
But they have failed to qualify for the last three finals in Gabon/Equatorial Guinea, South Africa and Equatorial Guinea. The Super Eagles, who also missed the 2012 finals, won the 2013 edition in South Africa to add to their 1980 and 1994 triumphs, but also missed the last tournament in Equatorial Guinea.
Matches between Nigeria and Egypt at international level are usually box-office, and the games for Gabon 2017 qualification would be no less supercharged.
Tanzania lost 3-1 to Nigeria in the opening match of the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations, and then got thrown out of the 1982 FIFA World Cup qualifying race by the Green Eagles.
Only the winners of the 13 groups are guaranteed spots in the finals, alongside host Gabon. Two best second –placed teams also go through. In other pairings, Tunisia, Togo, Liberia and Djibouti will battle for the one automatic qualifying spot in Group A, while Group B comprises DR Congo, Angola, Central African Republic and Madagascar, while in Group C are Mali, Equatorial Guinea, Benin and South Sudan.
In Group D are Burkina Faso, Uganda, Botswana and the Comoros, with Zambia, Congo, Kenya and Guinea Bissau pitched for the battles of Group D. One of the emerging nations of African football, Cape Verde are in Group F alongside Morocco, Libya and Sao Tome, while Group H has 2015 losing finalists, Ghana, Mozambique, Rwanda and Mauritius.
Cup holders, Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, Sierra Leone and Gabon are in Group I, while Group J houses Algeria, Ethiopia, Lesotho and Seychelles, with Group K comprising Senegal, Niger, Namibia and Burundi.
In Group L are Guinea, Malawi, Zimbabwe and Swaziland, with Cameroun, South Africa, The Gambia and Mauritania in Group M. CAF as at press time had not stated what would happen in Group I, which has the hosts, Gabon, as one of the teams vying for the sole ticket. As hosts, Gabon, automatically qualify for the competition.
The group winners and two best second placed teams join hosts Gabon for Finals in 2017 Gabon beat rival bids from Algeria and Ghana in a vote by the CAF executive committee at a meeting in Cairo to replace war-torn Libya, who withdrew last year as 2017 hosts because of the civil conflict raging in the country.
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