Ahead of Tuesday’s draw for the qualifiers for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) billed to take place in Cote d’Ivoire, the Confederation of African Football, CAF has released the procedures for the exercise.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria are one of the 48 teams that will be shared across the 12 groups in Tuesday’s draw.
The teams will discover their paths for possible qualification for the competition when the draw is held in the studios of SuperSport in Johannesburg, South Africa on Tuesday at 5:30 pm.
The 48 countries qualified to participate in the second round of the qualifiers have been seeded into four pots based on the official FIFA ranking released on 31 March 2022.
Nigeria, who finished in third place at the 2019 finals in Egypt and reached the Round of 16 at this year’s championship in Cameroon, is among the 12 teams in Pot 1 – the teams that will head the 12 qualification groups.
Others in Pot 1 are reigning champions Senegal, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Cameroon, Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cote d’Ivoire. Cote d’Ivoire’s participation will be only for formality’s sake.
Being in the same pot guarantees that none of these teams can be in the same group during the qualification campaign that will last between June 2022 and March 2023.
In Pot 2 are South Africa, Cape Verde, Guinea, Gabon, Benin Republic, Uganda, Zambia, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar, Kenya, and Sierra Leone.
Pot 3 comprises Namibia, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau, Niger Republic, Libya, Mozambique, Malawi, Togo, Zimbabwe, The Gambia, Angola, and Comoros.
Tanzania, Central African Republic, Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, Liberia, South Sudan, and Sao Tome & Principe make up Pot 4.
These teams as explained by CAF will then be drawn into 12 groups of four teams (Group A to L) with the top two teams from each group qualifying for the tournament to be played in the West African country.
Hosts Cote d’Ivoire will also participate in the draw 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.
Kenya and Zimbabwe, who have been suspended by FIFA from all football activities globally, will also be included in the draw despite their temporary bans.
However, CAF noted that 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.
Consequently, their groups will be composed of three teams with the first and runner-up teams of those groups qualifying for the final tournament.
As a result of that decision, Kenya and Zimbabwe cannot be drawn in the same group to avoid having one group with only two teams in case the suspension on both associations is not lifted.
In the draw to be conducted by the CAF Director of Competitions Samson Adamu and assisted by African football legends Lucas Radebe of South Africa and Ivorian Solomon Kalou, the first ball will be drawn from Pot 4 and will go to position A4.
The procedure will be repeated for the remaining teams of Pot 4 who will go to positions B4, C4, D4, E4, F4, G4, H4, I4, J4, K4 & L4 according to the draw order.
The same procedure as above will be repeated for Pot 3, Pot 2, and finally Pot 1.