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Africa Cup of Nations Qualification

Kalou: Ex-Chelsea forward talks up Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa’s Afcon 2023 chances

21:11 GMT 19/04/2022
Nigeria, Super Eagles
The Ivorian is upbeat about the chances of the African heavyweights qualifying for the biennial African football showpiece next year

Salomon Kalou has tipped Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa to qualify for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations billed for Cote d’Ivoire.

The former Cote d’Ivoire and Chelsea forward as well as Lucas Radebe assisted the Confederation of African Football director of competitions Samson Adamu during the draw ceremony held on Tuesday evening in Johannesburg, South Africa. 

The pairings served up plenty of interesting match-ups as 32 teams are expected to make it to the West African country in 2023.

Nigeria will face Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau and Sao Tome and Principe in Group A, and the 36-year-old is confident that the three-time African kings will stroll past their foes.

“I think it is a good group [for the Super Eagles]. I think Nigeria is a team that will always qualify,” Kalou said on SuperSport after the draw.

“They will be the favourites of the group while the second place is open for the other three teams.”

Having missed the last edition held in Cameroon, South Africa are hoping to return to Afcon, albeit, they must do well against Morocco, Zimbabwe and Libya in Group K.

Notwithstanding the presence of the Atlas Lions and Warriors, Kalou has no doubts that the 1996 African kings will be making their 11th appearance at the biennial African football fiesta.

The same sentiment he shared about defending champions Lions of Teranga who have been zoned in Group L with Benin Republic, Mozambique and Rwanda.

“Bafana Bafana are a strong team, they need to come back to the frontline now. I think they are capable of qualifying from this group,” he added.

There are no easy games but I think it’s going to be easy for Senegal. They are the defending champions and I feel they will go through.

“For Benin Republic, Rwanda and Mozambique, it is going to be 50-50.”

Meanwhile, the Elephants will try Zambia, Comoros and Lesotho for size even though they have already secured their place in the tournament which means only one other team from their group will qualify for the competition.

Even with their temporary suspension by Fifa, Kenya and Zimbabwe will take part in the qualifiers.

Notwithstanding if the suspension is not lifted two weeks before their first matchday of the qualifiers, both associations will be considered losers and eliminated from the competition.

With Cote d'Ivoire 2023 scheduled to be held from 23 June to 23 July 2023, the 32 teams expected to participate will be known in September 2022 and will have enough time to get ready for their opponents and to fine-tune their preparations.