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The Super Eagles can largely be content with their Group A draw, even if there are a few potential banana skins in there as the West African giants look to pick themselves up off the ground.
Sierra Leone are strong—and Nigeria weren’t able to beat them during the last qualifying campaign—but Guinea-Bissau were dispatched comfortably at the Nations Cup, and shouldn’t spoil the party.
Sao Tome e Principe are one of the continent’s minnows, and are unlikely to pose any problems for the Eagles.
As one of the weaker sides in Pot Two, everyone in the other pots will have been keen to be pitted against the Harambee Stars, while there are a few sides who Kenya will have wanted to have avoided.
Cameroon—who they’ve been pooled against from Pot One—are one of those sides, with the Indomitable Lions demonstrating their class to eliminate Algeria in the World Cup qualifying.
Namibia and Burundi, like Kenya, were both present at the 2019 Nations Cup, and their squads are full of players who know how to get over the line.
Winners: South Africa
Morocco are tough opponents for Bafana Bafana, and they’ll definitely have been one of the sides they’ll be keen to have avoided from Pot One.
However, the presence of Liberia presents South Africa with two winnable fixtures, and the derby with Zimbabwe—even if that complicates matters—gives Hugo Broos a good opportunity to demonstrate the progress he’s overseeing with this talented squad.
Zim were undone by Malawi at the Nations Cup, and Bafana will only have themselves to blame if they can’t reach the Afcon.
- Getty Images
Top seeds Egypt are of course favourites to reach the Nations Cup from Group D, but the Pharaohs could have had things a little easier than the group they’ve ultimately ended up with.
All of Guinea, Malawi and Ethiopia reached the last Nations Cup, with the Syli Nationale and the Flames both reaching the Last 16.
Egypt must ensure there’s no complacency as they look to progress.
Winners: The Gambia
Despite their heroics at the last Afcon, when they reached the quarter-finals, Gambia had to go through the preliminary qualifiers this time around due to their lowly ranking when the original pots were drawn.
They were in Pot Three ahead of the draw, one of the biggest threats in there, and after Congo-Brazzaville—one of the few sides in Pot Two not to have been at the last Afcon—were drawn into their group, they’ll be confident of progressing.
- Zambia FA.
Zambia are desperate to return to the big time after several years in the doldrums, they’ve got a talented squad, but still conspired to mess up qualification for the Nations Cup last time around.
Ivory Coast have vulnerabilities, of course, but should still top the group, while Comoros—attempting to qualify again after a successful Afcon campaign—can’t be underestimated.
Zambia will be hoping that the departure of influential head coach Amir Abdou ultimately hurts the tiny islanders.