CAN 2023 qualifiers: a first quantified assessment


Zero

Like the number of goals conceded by the best defenses of these first two days. This closed circle primarily includes Algeria. After their bitter failure during CAN 2021 then their cruel and badly digested elimination by Cameroon in the play-offs of the 2022 World Cup, the Fennecs still rely on their coach Djamel Belmadi. A bet on stability which seems to pay off, with rediscovered cohesion and solidity, against Uganda then in Tanzania, beaten by the same score (2-0). Also on this defensive roll of honor are Gabon, heroic winners in the DRC (0-1) after a match with nightmarish preparation, with an air crash narrowly avoided, and only 13 players on the score sheet. The Panthers of Patrice Neveu then suffered the backlash of these emotions against Mauritania (0-0). Now led by Amir Abdou, the architect of the success of the Comoros, the Mourabitounes had previously launched their campaign perfectly against South Sudan (3-0).

Zero

Like the number of points on the counter of the worst teams in these playoffs. These bad parties are Sao Tome and Principe (group A), South Sudan (group G), the Democratic Republic of Congo (group I) and Benin (group L). Neck and neck during the World Cup qualifiers, these last two teams are experiencing a serious ignition delay. Beaten at home by a decimated Gabon then on the ground of modest Sudan, the Leopards are in the continuity of the qualifying return match for the World Cup, which had seen them be outclassed by Morocco (4-1). Although they may have three points on the clock thanks to a narrow victory over Guinea, the Pharaohs of Egypt were ridiculed by Ethiopia (2-0). Even if they played this last match without their star and captain Mohamed Salah, the vice-champions of Africa are not far from deserving the dunce cap of these first two days.

Of them

Like the number of teams excluded before the start of the playoffs. The ax fell for Kenya and Zimbabwe. The kick-off of these qualifiers was given on June 1, 2022 without the Harambee Stars or the Warriors, who did not fulfill the sine qua non condition laid down by CAF: that the suspension of their Federation for political interference be lifted. 2 weeks before their game of the first day of the playoffs. Groups C and K to which the two teams belonged will be composed of only three teams and the order of matches will be maintained in accordance with the match schedule communicated to the teams after the draw of April 19, 2022. Group C is therefore reduced to Cameroon , Namibia and Burundi. Group K in Morocco, South Africa and Liberia. The three participants in these two truncated pools have two out of three chances of qualifying. This is what makes the business of the Indomitable Lions and the Atlas Lions, who also see their schedule emerge with a view to preparing for the next World Cup.

Five

Like the teams having succeeded in full card after their first two meetings. Nigeria (group A), Burkina Faso (group B), Algeria (group F), Mali (group G), Morocco (group K) and Senegal (group L) achieved such a clear round . This bodes particularly well for the last two named, who have relieved themselves of stress a few months before the World Cup in Qatar. Of the four other teams not to have given up a single point, three (Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali) have changed coaches since CAN, which saw them stuck at various times in the second round. The Portuguese José Peseiro, with the Super Eagles, the Frenchman Hubert Velud, on the bench of the Stallions, and the Franco-Malian Eric Chelle, on that of the Eagles, have all started their mandate on the right foot.

Five

Like the number of goals scored by the Nigerian Victor Osimhen, top scorer of these first two days. A home goal against Sierra Leone, followed by a quadruple against Sao Tome and Principe, in Agadir (Morocco), allowed the Napoli striker to take revenge on an injury-plagued start to the year and the Covid, which had deprived him of the CAN in Cameroon. A brilliant record for the Super Eagle, which is further enhanced by the two successful assists against the islanders.

Twelve

Like the number of goals scored by the best attack. Unsurprisingly, it is Nigeria, author of an unprecedented card against Sao Tome and Principe (10-0!), which occupies this rank. The Super Eagles have made the hole in this honorary ranking. A runner-up will nevertheless be awarded to Mali, Guinea-Bissau (7 goals) and Burkina Faso (5), the only other teams on the board to present an average of more than 2 goals per game.

Fifteen

Like the number of goals conceded by the worst defense. This sad privilege goes to Sao Tome and Principe, swept away by Guinea-Bissau (5-1) before suffering the wrath of Nigeria (10-0). The Green and Yellow, modest 183rd in the FIFA rankings, have some mitigating circumstances at this disastrous start to their journey. Initially disqualified in favor of Mauritius for non-compliance with Covid regulations, the islanders were only reinstated a few days before the start of the playoffs. Not easy to prepare for these meetings in such a context of emotional lift.

Playoffs continue in September 2022, with the third and fourth days, and will end in March 2023, with the fifth and sixth days. As a reminder, the first two teams of each group qualify for CAN 2023 except in the group of Côte d’Ivoire, automatically qualified as the organizing country.

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