Africa Cup of Nations final qualifying round preview
After all the commotion regarding the hosting country of the Africa Cup of Nations, which takes place from January 17th- February 8th 2015, qualifying is now in its final round with 10 teams already through to play in Equatorial Guinea.
The Central African nation, who replaced Morocco as hosts and participants, will join Cape Verde, Algeria, Tunisia, South Africa, Zambia, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Gabon and Senegal, plus six others.
Among the names still fighting precariously for a place in the finals are seven-time winners and champions of three of the last five tournaments Egypt, as well as holders Nigeria and arguably the best African side, the Ivory Coast.
There will be five more spaces for countries to automatically qualify from their four-team qualifying groups, and then only one side will have the chance to make it to the finals as the highest third-placed nation.
Ivory Coast face Group D winners Cameroon first up at 2pm, and need just a point in their home encounter, as they are three ahead of Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Elephants go into the match as 4/6 odds-on favourites for victory, and avenge their 4-1 reverse fixture defeat to the Indomitable Lions.
Both nations will be without legends Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o, though, as they have both retired form internationals. However, Kolo and Yaya Toure and Wilfried Bony will be the Premier League players on offer.
Egypt, meanwhile, have had a woeful campaign, having lost three of their five games. The Pharaohs can still qualify through the best third-placed team, though, but they have to win and hope that Guinea (Group E) and Congo (A) fail to take three points, Democratic Republic of Congo don’t outscore them.
Group G table-toppers Tunisia stand in Egypt’s way, however, and are the hosts. They are favourites at 11/10 to win, while the Pharaohs are priced at 2/1.
Guinea stand the best chance out of the third-placed teams to go through so far, topping that particular table. They host Uganda for their final showdown, and are evens favourites to win.
Cup holders Nigeria welcome South Africa in their last match needing to better Congo’s result against Sudan to automatically qualify. They will have the likes of Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel to help them through.
Meanwhile, there is all to play for in Ghana’s Group E. They top the pool, but could finish bottom if they lose to Togo but over two goals and Uganda draw with Guinea.