After nearly two years, the qualifiers for the 33rd Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) 2022 have finally wrapped up, and the Afcon qualifiers are defined. A total of 24 teams qualified for the knockout stages.
AFCON Qualifiers 2022
The AFCON Qualifiers were originally scheduled to take place in 2019. 52 teams in total entered, but the tournament league could only accept 48. Therefore, the 8 lowest seeded teams were put into preliminary round groups.
The seeds were done by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) based on the FIFA World Rankings. The seeded teams were sorted into four pots of 12 each. However, Pot #4 had 8 teams to start, with the rest being filled in from the prelims.
The prelims concluded in October 2019, and the first two out of six group stages match days took place in November. The rest were scheduled for March 2020, but that was eventually cancelled due to the pandemic. Eventually, the African Cup of Nations qualifiers were rescheduled to March 2021, and the very last match was played in June 2021.
The upcoming group stage of the African Cup of Nations will be held in Cameroon from January 2022.
🌍 The African Cup Qualification: How Does it Work?
The qualification process for the African Cup is straightforward. The CAF seeds teams into ‘pots’ for the AFCON qualifiers stage. Any teams that seed too low to fit into the pots must undergo a preliminary round.
The Pots were arranged in descending order of seed pos. Senegal, ranked #22 by FIFA, took first place in Pot 1, followed by Tunisia and Nigeria. In Pot 2, Guinea, South Africa and Cape Verde led the pack. Pot 3 included countries such as Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone and Sudan – all ranked above #100.
After the preliminary rounds concluded, the remaining 48 teams are divided into 12 groups of 4 teams. Each group matches each team against all other teams twice in a double round-robin format. All the team plays a home game and an away game against the other team.
Every team was awarded 3 points for a win and 0 points for a loss. In a tie, both teams got 1 point. At the end of the matches, if two teams had the same total points, then they would be ranked on other criteria. This includes points earned by the two tied teams when playing against each other, the goals scored and goal differences against each other, and so on.
From the overall AFCON group matches results and the AFCON qualifiers, 24 teams were selected and seeded into 6 teams of 4. Inside each group, teams played each other once. The top two teams from each group head into the Round of 16. For the remaining four slots, the third-place teams duke it out. The four third-place teams with the best performance in their group matches move on to the next stage.
From the Round of 16, it’s a straight elimination format. The winners go onto the quarterfinals, then the semifinals and the finals.
⚽ Best Goalscorers During the Qualifications
Wondering if there are any players to keep an eye on? If you prefer to watch aggressive players, then you are in luck. Two goalscorers shone during the group matches Zambia’s Patson Daka, and Nigeria’s very own Victor Osimhen. Both scored 5 goals each across the 6 group matches played.
22-year-old Victor Osimhen is the lynchpin of the Super Eagles’ attack in the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations. A star striker, he filled the gap left by Ighalo’s departure after the 2019 AFCON. In addition to Nigeria’s international team, he also plays for the Italian team Napoli. Plus, he’s being scouted by top European teams like Man Utd., Man City and PSG. For any fans of the Super Eagles, this is one player to keep an eye on.
Osimhen scored Nigeria’s very first goal in the AFCON Qualifiers against Benin. He went on to score three more goals against Lesotho and one against Sierra Leone. Even beyond the group matches, such as in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, his talent is evident.
The other star of the qualifications was 23-year-old Patson Daka. The Zambian is no stranger to the top level of play either, normally playing as a striker for Leicester City. Though Zambia has failed to qualify for AFCON, Daka’s finesse with the ball is a highlight of their matches.
In Zambia’s group, only Algeria and Zimbabwe passed. Though Zambia did not make it through the AFCON qualifiers, they were only one point behind Zimbabwe. If they can improve their lineup and build around Daka further, they may have a shot in 2022.
🦅 Super Eagles During the AFCON Qualification
The Super Eagles’ have had stellar qualifications in the last few years. For the 2019 AFCON Qualifiers, they moved onto the knockout stage with a game to spare. That is, they were more than 3 points ahead of the runners-up in the group.
In the FIFA 2022 World Cup, they qualified with two games to spare. Similarly, in the 2021 AFCON qualifiers, Nigeria earned a ticket to the Finals with one game to spare.
The Super Eagles were placed in Group L of the AFCON qualifiers, alongside Sierra Leone, Benin, and Lesotho. Nigeria’s first match against Benin started off with them on the backseat thanks to an early 3-minute goal from Benin. However, the Super Eagles held their ground and won 2-1.
The next match against Lesotho started off similarly. Nigeria scored four goals against Lesotho’s one, and even the last-minute second goal from the Crocodiles did not affect the Super Eagles’ prospects.
Things got rocky against Sierra Leone. Though the Super Eagles immediately assumed a commanding 4-0 lead by 30 minutes, they lost that lead over the next 60 minutes. The match ended in a tie instead – 4-4, though if it had gone on any longer Sierra Leone might have pulled off a comeback win. The next match against Sierra Leone once again was also a draw.
The last two group matches against Benin and Lesotho were clean wins again – 1-0 and 3-0 respectively. The Super Eagles qualified at the top of their group and seem to be in good form. They could achieve a result as good, or even better, as 2019’s third place. Despite the poor showing against Sierra Leone, a fourth championship is still in the cards.
New Appearances in the Next AFCON – Afcon qualifiers
Each year, there are generally a handful of new teams that pass the African Cup of Nations qualifiers for the first time. In the 2021 AFCON qualifiers, there were two: Gambia and Comoros.
So, are they worth keeping an eye on? Do they have any promise as up-and-coming teams, or was moving onto the group stage simply a matter of luck?
For starters, Gambia’s path through the AFCON qualifiers was as hard as Nigeria’s. In Group D, they were up against Gabon, Angola and DR Congo.
While Gabon and Angola are tough matches, it was the DR Congo team that could have been the major obstacle. The DR Congo team was ranked in the Top 30 by FIFA recently and has won multiple previous AFCON cups. Despite that, DR Congo failed to qualify and came third in Group D, while the Gambia took first place tying with Gabon.
Meanwhile, Comoros had an even tougher group in Group E. They went up against Egypt, one of the best teams in Africa, as well as Kenya and Togo. But despite the stiff competition, they only lost one match to Egypt. The other matches were all ties or tight wins.
Where Can I Bet on the African Cup of Nation 2022?
Interested in betting on the AFCON 2022? We have gathered a list of the best betting sites for you. They are all focused on the African market and will have great odds for punters to look forward to. You may make AFCON predictions about the winners of the group matches in the tournament and the eventual final winner.
To bet at any of these sites, you will have to create an account. Look for the ‘Register’ button at the top right corner of the screen. After creating an account, you may deposit money and wager on any match, both upcoming and currently ongoing!
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