Three-time champions and four-time runners-up Nigeria will know their group opponents when the draw for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualification series is staged at the SuperSport Studio in Johannesburg, South Africa on Tuesday evening. The event will commence at 6.30pm Nigeria time (which is 7.30pm in South Africa), The Trumpet gathered.
In the report by Ademola Olajire, NFF Director of Media and Communications, a total of 48 teams will be divided into 12 groups of four teams each, with only the winner of each group guaranteed a slot at the 34th Africa Cup of Nations that Cote d’Ivoire will stage next year summer. Hosts Cote d’Ivoire are guaranteed a place, alongside the best three second-placed teams in all the 12 groups.
Nigeria, who finished in third place at the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt and reached the Round of 16 at this year’s championship in Cameroon, is among the 12 teams in Pot 1 – the teams that will head the 12 qualification groups. Others in Pot 1 are reigning champions Senegal, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Cameroon, Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cote d’Ivoire. Cote d’Ivoire’s participation will be only for formality’s sake.
Being in the same pot guarantees that none of these teams can be in the same group during the qualification campaign that will last between June 2022 and March 2023. The first two matchdays are in June, with two other matchdays in September and the final two matchdays to take place in March 2023.
In Pot 2 are South Africa, Cape Verde, Guinea, Gabon, Benin Republic, Uganda, Zambia, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar, Kenya, and Sierra Leone.
Pot 3 comprises Namibia, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau, Niger Republic, Libya, Mozambique, Malawi, Togo, Zimbabwe, The Gambia, Angola, and Comoros.
Tanzania, Central African Republic, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, Liberia, South Sudan, and Sao Tome & Principe make up Pot 4.