Africa-Press – Mauritius. Qualifying matches for the Africa Cup of Nations which were scheduled for September have been pushed back to March next year to help the continent’s teams prepare for the World Cup in Qatar, AFP learned on Thursday.
The decision to delay the qualifiers was eased when the finals, originally scheduled to be held in June and July next year in Ivory Coast, were postponed to January-February 2024 in a bid to avoid the rainy season.
“The postponement of the Cup of Nations offered an opportunity to reschedule the remaining qualifying matches,” a document addressed to the members of the executive committee of the CAF, which has been seen by AFP, outlined.
“It also makes it possible to open the dates in September to international friendly matches for preparation for the World Cup.
Senegal, who won the 2022 Cup of Nations in February, Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco and Tunisia have qualified for the World Cup to be staged in Qatar from 21 November to 18 December.
The third and fourth rounds of qualifying for the 2024 Cup of Nations will take place in March 2023, match days five and six will be held in June with the sixth day set for September.
It means that Zambia’s back to back qualifiers against Lesotho will be played March next year while the final two matches against Ivory Coast and Comoros will take place June 2023.
The first two rounds were completed in June this year. The Chipolopolo Boys are currently second in the group with 3 points while Ivory Coast are on 4 points. Comoros is also on 3 points with Lesotho on 1 point.