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Sport

AFCON draw offers Nigeria chance to avenge Benin loss

todayJuly 4, 2024 7

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William Troost-Ekong of Nigeria celebrates with his team mates after scoring his goal during the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations final match between Nigeria and Ivory Coast at Olympic Stadium of Ebimpe on February 11, 2024 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. (Photo by MB Media/Getty Images)

 

 

 

Nigeria will get a chance to avenge a shock World Cup loss to Benin when they were drawn in the same 2025 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying group on Thursday.

The Cheetahs stunned the Super Eagles 2-1 last month, leaving Nigeria on the back foot as they seek a place at the 2026 World Cup in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

Libya and Rwanda complete Group D after the draw in Johannesburg.

The group winners and runners-up qualify for the December 2025-January 2026 finals in Morocco.

Nigeria were runners-up to hosts the Ivory Coast in this year’s Cup of Nations, and since then Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro and short-lived replacement Finidi George have resigned.

Former Nigeria midfielder Finidi stepped down after a home World Cup draw with South Africa was followed by the loss to Benin.

The Ivory Coast, who came from behind to defeat Nigeria in the final through a Sebastien Haller goal, were placed in Group G with Zambia, Sierra Leone and Chad.

Zambia caused one of the greatest shocks in Cup of Nations history when they defeated the Ivory Coast on penalties after a goalless 2012 final in Gabon.

The Zambian Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) returned to the Cup of Nations this year after a three-tournament absence, but failed to win a match and exited after the first round.

The southern African country are coached by Israel-born Avram Grant, the former Chelsea and West Ham United manager.

South Africa exceeded expectations by finishing third at the Cup of Nations this year and will face Uganda, Congo Brazzaville and South Sudan in Group K.

Bafana Bafana (The Boys) carried their impressive form from the Ivory Coast into mid-year World Cup qualifying, holding Nigeria on the road, then defeating Zimbabwe at home.

They are guided by Belgian Hugo Broos, who defied the odds by leading Cameroon to the 2017 Cup of Nations title through a final victory over record seven-time champions Egypt.

Cameroon, five times winners of a competition first staged in 1957, are in Group J with Namibia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.

Shock 2022 World Cup semi-finalists Morocco are automatic qualifiers as hosts, but will face Gabon, the Central African Republic and Lesotho in Group B to gain competitive match practice.

The presence of the Moroccan Atlas Lions means only the highest placed of the other three countries will advance to the 24-nation tournament, which kicks off on December 21 next year.

Originally scheduled for mid 2025, the Cup of Nations had to be delayed to avoid a clash with the new-look Club World Cup in the United States.

There will be two qualifying matchdays in September, two in October and the final two in November this year.

dl/pi

AFP

(NAMPA / AFP)

 

Written by: Staff Writer

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