Algeria and Senegal ensure, Comoros are a sensation

Aliou Cissé, the Senegal coach, during the CAN in Egypt, in July 2019.

At the end of the third and fourth qualifying days for the next African Cup of Nations (CAN), five selections ensured their presence in Cameroon from January 9 to February 6, 2022. In addition to the host country, automatically qualified, the Algeria, Senegal, Tunisia and Mali can already plan on the final phase. Morocco, Egypt, Burkina Faso and Guinea are getting closer, while some big teams on the continent, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Côte d’Ivoire or Ghana, will have to fight to the end so as not to miss the great African rally.

Travel in southern Africa is rarely fun for the Maghreb selections. Algeria had the bitter experience, Monday, November 16 in Zimbabwe, on what remains of the lawn of the National Sports Stadium in Harare, conceding a draw (2-2) after having nevertheless led 2-0 . But the reigning African champions, who won the first leg in Algiers (3-1), did not have to regret having let the Warriors come back to their height. Botswana’s victory against Zambia (1-0) allowed them to celebrate their qualification on the return plane. With ten points in four games, Algeria will play its last two games free of any pressure. Coach Djamel Belmadi recalled having no other ambition than to lead his team to Cameroon, then to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.

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  • The Comoros have reached their goal

Without big resources or renowned players, but with a lot of discipline, desire and ambition, the Comoros are a hair’s breadth away from a historic qualification for the CAN. Thanks to the results obtained against Kenya (1-1 on the first leg, 2-1 on the return), the Coelacanths only need one point in their next two meetings, in March, against Togo and Egypt. A performance for this selection affiliated to FIFA since only 2005 but in clear progress since it was led by Amir Abdou, a 48-year-old Franco-Comorian, previously municipal agent near Agen and coach of an amateur team. His recipe? “Determination, group dynamics, discipline and an ambitious game plan”, he explains. In Moroni and everywhere else on the archipelago, the islanders hope.

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  • Senegal’s faultless

The vice-champions of Africa have not made the slightest mistake. They certainly play in a very affordable group (Congo-Brazzaville, Guinea-Bissau, Eswatini), but they have not fallen into any of the traps that African football has in store. Aliou Cissé’s players have beaten Guinea-Bissau twice and with those six extra points they are sure to be on the trip to Cameroon. Sadio Mané, already a scorer in the first leg in Thiès (2-0), offered Sunday the victory and qualification to the Teranga Lions in Bissau (1-0). The best Senegalese player, author of a good start to the season with Liverpool despite an infection with Covid-19 in early October, justified his rank. And the results of Senegal, declared candidate for the succession of Algeria to the CAN winners, prove that the stability advocated by Augustin Senghor, the president of the federation, has good: appointed in February 2025, Aliou Cissé is indeed the oldest African coach in office.

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  • Twisted shots in Banjul and Maputo

Gabonese will remember their stay in Gambia for a long time. They were not only beaten on Monday in Banjul (1-2), after winning the same score four days earlier in Franceville, but they also spent the night before the match at the airport in the Gambian capital, lying on the floor. Because of multiple red tape, the Panthers could not reach their hotel until 6 am, for a meeting scheduled for 5 pm …

In Mozambique, Cameroonians have also tasted the joys of bureaucracy. When they arrived, they first waited nearly three hours before being able to leave Maputo airport. Then, on the day of departure, due to a problem with the payment of kerosene by the Indomitable Lions carrier, the players had to return to their hotel. The African Football Confederation (CAF) has promised to investigate these repeated pettiness, disastrous in terms of image. Anyway, the Cameroonians largely dominated the Portuguese-speaking selection (2-0, after 4-1 in the first leg).


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