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Afcon 2025 Qualifying Draw Sets Stage for Exciting Matchups

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louis Buyisiwe

Jul 5, 2024

Ivory Coast and Nigeria Face Challenging Paths to Morocco as Groups Are Revealed

The stage is set for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers

The draw for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifiers has set the stage for some exciting matchups. Reigning champions Ivory Coast, confident after their recent triumph, aim to reach the finals in Morocco. Nigeria, however, faces a challenging group in the qualifying draw held in Johannesburg.

The Super Eagles are paired with Benin, Rwanda, and Libya. Benin, coached by former Nigeria boss Gernot Rohr, recently defeated Nigeria 2-1 in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Nigeria, now seeking a new manager after Finidi George's resignation, is yet to officially confirm his departure as he joined Rivers United.

Ivory Coast, who secured their third continental title in February by defeating Nigeria in the delayed 2023 Afcon final, will compete against 2012 champions Zambia, Sierra Leone, and Chad. Elephants coach Emerse Fae, who helped conduct the draw, expressed satisfaction with the outcome.

"We played against Zambia for the last Afcon qualifying and lost 3-0 away," Fae told BBC Sport Africa. "It will be a very difficult game, but knowing them will help us avoid the same mistakes."

Speaking to Caf TV, Fae added,

"The most important thing for me is we don't have long trips. It's going to be good."

The 48 competing teams are divided into 12 groups of four, with the top two in each group advancing to the finals in Morocco. Hosts Morocco are assured of a place, meaning only one other team from their group, which includes Gabon, Central African Republic, and Lesotho, will qualify.

The qualifiers are scheduled across six match days in September, October, and November this year.

"I prefer to play all the games in a short time," Fae noted. "Playing each month is beneficial for us and allows ample time to prepare for the competition if we qualify."

The 2025 Afcon finals will commence on December 21, 2025, and conclude on January 18, 2026. This scheduling marks the first time the tournament will take place over the Christmas and New Year period, overlapping with the Premier League's festive programme and UEFA Champions League match rounds.

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