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Burundi, Comoros chase maiden AFCON finals

Burundi require only a point to reach the 2019 AFCON Finals (Agency Photo)

Two of the continent’s smallest countries, Burundi and Comoros, will qualify for their maiden Africa Cup of Nations finals if results go their way in the ultimate AFCON qualifiers that take place on the weekend of March 22-24th.

The biennial showpiece is, for the first time ever, set to take place in June across several Egyptian cities.

Burundi’s Swallows have confounded the form book by registering unlikely draws in Gabon and Mali to go within a point of the Egypt 2019 finals. If the tiny East African nation avoids defeat against Daniel Cousin’s Gabon in Bujumbura on Saturday, they will appear in their maiden finals.

Comoros, on the other hand, have the unenviable task of trying to beat Clarence Seedorf’s five time winners Cameroon in Yaoundé.

A total of ten places are up for grabs in the qualifiers. Angola will qualify from Group I if they overcome Southern African neighbours Botswana in Gaborone on Friday evening. Any other result will open the way for former losing finalists Burkina Faso who are strong favourites to upstage already qualified group winners Mauritania in Ouagadougou.

Sparks are to fly as 1996 winners South Africa chase the draw they need away to Libya’s Mediterranean Knights as they seek to join Nigeria as qualifiers from Group E.

Gernot Rohr’s Super Eagles are faced with a more straightforward task of dispatching a Seychelles side they overcame 3-0 in the reverse fixture.

Bafana Bafana’s task is more onerous as the Mediterranean Knights held them to a two-all draw in South Africa.

Saturday’s action sees already eliminated 2012 champions Zambia play the role of Group K kingmaker when they host Namibia. A draw will see the visitors book a berth in Egypt 2019 if group leaders Guinea Bissau use home ground advantage to defeat Mozambique.

Fate is out of the hands of Tanzania’s Taifa Stars when they host already qualified East African neighbours Uganda in a Group L rubber.

The Tanzanians 39-year wait for Africa Cup of Nations qualification will continue even if they beat Uganda Cranes if the group’s highest ranked side, Cape Verde, overcome lowly Lesotho in front of their own fans.

All four teams in Group G are in the reckoning for a place in Egypt 2019.

Leaders Zimbabwe can earn a finals place if they avoid defeat at home to Congo Brazzaville.

But 1968 and 1974 AFCON champions Democratic Republic of Congo must overcome Liberia in Kinshasa if they are to book a place in the Egypt event.

FIXTURES:
Group A: Senegal v Madagascar, Sudan v Equatorial Guinea

Group B: Malawi v Morocco, Cameroon v Comoros

Group C: Mali v South Sudan, Burundi v Gabon

Group D: Algeria v Cape Verde, Benin v Togo

Group E: Nigeria v Seychelles, Libya v South Africa

Group F: Ghana v Kenya

Group G: DR Congo v Liberia, Zimbabwe v Congo Brazzaville

Group H: Ivory Coast v Rwanda, Central Africa v Guinea

Group I: Botswana v Angola, Burkina Faso v Mauritania

Group J: Tunisia v Estwatini, Niger v Egypt

Group K: Zambia v Namibia, Guinea Bissau v Mozambique

Group L: Tanzania v Uganda, Cape Verde v Lesotho

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