Comoros on brink of historic qualification as games begin in Africa

The Comoros Islands are on the brink of qualification for the African Cup of Nations finals for the first time and could be joined in next year’s tournament in Cameroon by Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and South Africa, and one of Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The Comoros have gone through their opening four games in Group G without defeat and would qualify with just a home draw against Togo on Thursday.

They effectively need a single point from their last two matches but would want to conclude matter this week rather than leave it to their last game on Monday, which is away against Egypt.

The Comoros squad was threatened to be decimated by the decision of French clubs not to release their players for international duty but the quarantine restrictions have since been relaxed.

Coach Amir Abdou unveiled his final roster on Sunday and ultimately had to make six changes from his initial squad of 25.

Botswana and Zimbabwe are in a race for a second qualifying berth in Group H from where Cup of Nations holders Algeria have already booked their spot.

The Zebras host Zimbabwe in Francistown on Thursday in a must win game for both countries. Zimbabwe have five points and Botswana four while 2012 Cup of Nations winners Zambia are last with three but still in with a chance.

Zambia host Algeria in Lusaka on Thursday and are boosted by the arrival of their Austrian-based duo Patrick Daka and Enock Mwepu but without injured Belgium-based striker Fashion Sakala.

Zimbabwe’s captain Knowledge Musona has arrived from Belgium for their game but several other key squad members were yet to arrive by Tuesday.

Madagascar, newcomers at the last finals in Egypt, can qualify for a second successive time if they win in Ethiopia on Wednesday. But if they lose the game in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia will go above them by two points in the Group K standings, leaving Barea to have to try and secure qualification in their final match on Tuesday at home to Niger.

Malawi must win both their last two games in Group B if they are to make it to Cameroon, winning away against South Sudan in Khartoum on Wednesday and then beating Uganda at home on Monday.

Mozambique start the last two rounds of Group F qualifiers in second place but two points above Rwanda, who host them in Kigali on Wednesday. A defeat would be a severe blow to their hopes and the Mambas have been hit by the absence of nine of their European-based players.

But if they do lose, they could still secure qualification with home success against the Cape Verde Islands in Maputo next Tuesday.

Angola, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia are all likely to miss out.

Namibia have been handed a walkover against Chad, who were disqualified and the Wednesday’s meeting in Ndjamena is now a 3-0 win for Namibia, who move to six points from five games in group A.

But their last game at home to Guinea in Windhoek on Sunday will be rendered meaningless if Guinea beat Mali at home on Wednesday.