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Top 5 AFCON Qualifiers to watch this week

Top 5 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers to watch this week ft Senegal vs Guinea-Bissau, Ghana vs Sudan, Ivory Coast vs Madagascar, etc

November 9, 2020 By Emmanuel K. Budu-Annor
Following almost a year's absence due to the coronavirus pandemic, the AFCON qualifiers finally returns.

The Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers will finally return after the emergence of the coronavirus necessitated a hiatus for almost a year. The last round of matches were played in November 2019 and persistence of the virus brought the need for all the fixtures scheduled for March to be postponed. In consequence, the next edition of the tournament which was to be held in Cameroon in January 2021, was also pushed back to 2022.

In the upcoming international break, matchday 3 and 4 of the qualifying round are expected to be concluded with the participating countries rearing to justify their inclusion in the finals. As it is the case in most parts of the world, these teams will seek to achieve this objective by operating within the health protocols and guidelines outlined by the regional football's governing body to minimise the spread of the virus.

Below, we take a look at some of the top match-ups slated for the month of November with the qualification stakes rising for some household names on the African continent.

1. Senegal vs Guinea-Bissau

Senegal will aim to keep their 100 percent win record in the qualifiers going when they welcome Guinea Bissau to Stade Lat Dior on Wednesday. So far, the 2019 AFCON finalists have registered wins against Congo (2-0) and Eswatini (1-4) in their two opening fixtures and should be able to make a strong case to finish as table-toppers in Group I.

On the other hand, Guinea Bissau will be looking to bounce back from their last defeat to the Republic of Congo in November. The Djurtus have a shot at making an appearance at the next AFCON as they sit third on the table with three points from two games and are only edged on goal difference by Congo.

2. Ghana vs Sudan

The Black Stars of Ghana are yet to put a foot wrong in the Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers and will hope to consolidate their position atop Group C with victory against Sudan on matchday 3. C.K Akonnor's men have so far beaten South Africa and Sao Tome and Principe in their first two games and are yet to concede a goal in the campaign. The upcoming test with Sudan is inarguably tricky as some of Ghana's key players including Thomas Partey and Bernard Mensah will be amiss.

For Sudan, a win over the Black Stars could catapult them into first position as they sit in third place with three points from two outings. However, their recent form suggests that the task will not be easy to achieve.

With no win in their last six appearances in all competitions, a lot more will be required from Hubert Velud's men at the Cape Coast Stadium on Thursday if they are to complicate the qualification process for the Black Stars.

3. Ivory Coast vs Madagascar

After winning the hearts of many in their maiden Africa Cup of Nations appearance in 2019, Madagascar are still in an ascendency and will travel to Ivory Coast in search of their third successive win in the AFCON qualifiers. The Barea defeated Ethiopia 1-0 at home in their first game before traveling to Niger to thrash them 6-2 back in November 2019.

While Ivory Coast present a different challenge, it will not be a surprise to see islanders capitalise on the recent struggles of the Elephants to break away from the pack. Patrice Beaumelle's men opened their campaign with a 1-0 home win over Niger but succumbed to a 2-1 defeat in their subsequent clash with Ethiopia.

Against Madagascar, a prompt reaction will be of the essence as they enter the encounter off the back of a three-game winless run.

4. Nigeria vs Sierra Leone

Leaders of Group L Nigeria will take on bottom-dwellers Sierra Leone in their matchday 3 fixture of the qualifying round. While the game will be played in the neighbouring country Benin, the Super Eagles will hope to make it three wins out of three in the ongoing campaign.

Sierra Leone, on the other hand, will look to get the objective to feature in the next edition of the AFCON back on track as a defeat will virtually end the dream to qualify. With just a point from two outings, and one win from their last eight outings in all competitions, this will without doubt be a big ask for the visitors.

5. Egypt vs Togo

Hosts of the previous edition of the Africa Cup of Nations Egypt, will be eager to grab the maximum points when they welcome Togo to the Cairo International Stadium on Friday. The Pharaohs are currently struggling in Group G, having only managed just two points from two matches so far. The seven-time continental champions risk missing out on featuring in the next edition of the tournament as they are currently placed third behind Comoros and Kenya.

While a win will be enough to place Egypt on the right path, Togo will be out to chase salvation of their own considering the fact that they sit at the bottom of the group. The Sparrowhawks have struggled in recent times in all fronts and are without a win in their last four outings.

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