Sports

AFCON qualifiers: Nigeria’s chance to avenge Benin loss

Nigeria is set for a chance at redemption against Benin after being drawn in the same group for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.

This comes on the heels of a surprising 2-1 loss to Benin last month, a defeat that has complicated Nigeria’s quest for a spot in the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Group D Showdown

  • Nigeria
  • Benin
  • Libya
  • Rwanda

The draw, held in Johannesburg, placed Nigeria in Group D alongside Benin, Libya, and Rwanda. The top two teams from each group will secure a place in the finals scheduled for December 2025 to January 2026 in Morocco.

Nigeria’s Coaching Challenges

Nigeria, runners-up to hosts Ivory Coast in the most recent AFCON, has faced coaching instability with the resignations of Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro and his brief successor, Finidi George. Finidi stepped down following a home draw against South Africa and the subsequent loss to Benin.

Group G Highlights

The defending champions, Ivory Coast, will compete in Group G with Zambia, Sierra Leone, and Chad. Ivory Coast triumphed over Nigeria in the last AFCON final with a comeback goal from Sebastien Haller.

  • Ivory Coast
  • Zambia
  • Sierra Leone
  • Chad

Zambia, under the leadership of Israel-born coach Avram Grant, returned to the tournament this year after missing the last three editions but failed to progress beyond the first round. Their historic victory over Ivory Coast in the 2012 final remains one of the tournament’s biggest upsets.

South Africa’s Momentum

South Africa, which exceeded expectations by finishing third in the latest AFCON, will face Uganda, Congo Brazzaville, and South Sudan in Group K. Bafana Bafana’s impressive form continued into World Cup qualifying, where they held Nigeria to a draw and defeated Zimbabwe at home.

  • South Africa
  • Uganda
  • Congo Brazzaville
  • South Sudan

Guided by Belgian coach Hugo Broos, South Africa aims to build on their recent success. Broos previously led Cameroon to the 2017 AFCON title.

Morocco’s Automatic Qualification

Morocco, the surprise semi-finalists of the 2022 World Cup, automatically qualify as hosts but will compete in Group B against Gabon, the Central African Republic, and Lesotho for match practice. Only the highest-placed team from these three will join Morocco in the 24-nation tournament.

  • Morocco (hosts)
  • Gabon
  • Central African Republic
  • Lesotho

The tournament, initially set for mid-2025, was postponed to avoid clashing with the revamped Club World Cup in the United States.

Key Dates

  • Matchdays 1 & 2: September 2024
  • Matchdays 3 & 4: October 2024
  • Matchdays 5 & 6: November 2024

With these matchups, the road to the 2025 AFCON promises thrilling encounters and opportunities for teams to make their mark on African football’s biggest stage.

Samuel Bolaji

Samuel Bolaji holds a Master of Letters in Publishing Studies from the University of Stirling, Scotland, United Kingdom, and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. He is an experienced researcher, multimedia journalist, writer, and Editor. He is currently the Editor of Arbiterz.

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