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Afcon 2023: Who has booked their place in Ivory Coast next year and who is out?
Six teams, including defending champions Senegal, have booked their place at next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) after rounds three and four of qualifying.
Algeria, Burkina Faso, Morocco, South Africa and Tunisia are the other sides who have already done enough to join the Teranga Lions and hosts Ivory Coast at the tournament.
But several countries have also already been eliminated ahead of the two remaining sets of fixtures that will be played in June and September.
Botswana, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar and Sao Tome and Principe are the nations now playing only for pride.
Two groups had also previously been reduced to three countries because of Fifa bans imposed on Kenya and Zimbabwe.
The Confederation of African Football has announced the competition in Ivory Coast will begin with the opening match at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan on 13 January 2024 while the final will be played on 11 February.
With the top two teams from each group progressing, BBC Sport Africa takes a look at how things stand.
(N.B. Positions in a group where two teams have an equal number of points will be decided firstly by head-to-head record between those teams.)
Three-time champions Nigeria had a chance to seal their place but a shock 1-0 home loss to Guinea-Bissau on matchday three means the Super Eagles need another three points to be sure of qualification.
Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone look likely to battle it out for the other berth while Sao Tome and Principe are eliminated.
June: Sierra Leone vs Nigeria / Sao Tome and Principe vs Guinea Bissau
September: Nigeria vs Sao Tome and Principe / Guinea Bissau vs Sierra Leone
Burkina Faso, semi-finalists at the last Afcon in Cameroon, qualified after picking up a point in a 1-1 draw away to Togo.
With a five-point cushion over Eswatini and Togo, Cape Verde look almost certain to join the Stallions in Ivory Coast next year.
June: Caper Verde vs Burkina Faso / Eswatini vs Togo
September: Burkina Faso vs Eswatini / Togo vs Cape Verde
The big surprise in Group C saw Namibia beat five-time winners Cameroon 2-1 – a result that means the Brave Warriors are on the verge picking up one of the two qualification places and could seal the deal in June.
That’s because they face Burundi, who have a game in hand on their rivals but a lot of work to do if they wish to reach their second Nations Cup.
June: Burundi vs Namibia
September: Cameroon vs Burundi
Mohamed Salah was on target as Egypt thumped Malawi 4-0 in Lilongwe, although that emphatic victory was still not quite enough to seal a place in the finals for the Pharoahs.
However, the record seven-time winners do top Group D ahead of Guinea on goal difference, with both nations well placed to advance ahead of Malawi and Ethiopia.
June: Ethiopia vs Malawi / Guinea vs Egypt
September: Egypt vs Ethiopia / Malawi vs Guinea
Group E is still up for grabs after Ghana’s new head coach, Chris Hughton, saw his team claim a 1-0 victory in Accra, thanks to an injury-time winner, and a 1-1 draw in Luanda from their double-header with Angola.
Central African Republic continued their strong campaign with a 5-0 aggregate score in their home and away games with Madagascar, results which mean the Barea can no longer reach Ivory Coast.
June: Madagascar vs Ghana / Central African Republic vs Angola
September: Angola vs Madagascar / Ghana vs Central African Republic
Algeria remain dominant in Group F having claimed maximum points from their four games so far.
The Desert Foxes became the second side to qualify for the 2023 Nations Cup following back-to-back wins against Niger.
Tanzania, Uganda and Niger are all still in contention to claim second place.
June: Tanzania vs Niger / Uganda vs Algeria
September: Algeria vs Tanzania / Niger vs Uganda
Mali only needed a draw from their fourth game to ensure qualification but a defiant Gambia, who provided the fairytale story at the most recent Cup of Nations in Cameroon, fought their way back into contention by winning 1-0.
That result puts the Scorpions level on points with Congo-Brazzaville, setting up a potential winner-takes-all tie between the two nations in September as South Sudan’s hopes of a first ever Afcon qualification appear to be fading.
June: Congo vs Mali / South Sudan vs Gambia
September: Gambia vs Congo / Mali vs South Sudan
2023 Nations Cup hosts Ivory Coast’s double victory over Comoros has helped put Zambia on the brink of qualification.
The Copper Bullets recorded their own double over Lesotho who have now been eliminated as a result.
June: Zambia vs Ivory Coast / Lesotho vs Comoro
September: Comoros vs Zambia / Ivory Coast vs Lesotho
Group I is perhaps the most open of all, with four nations still in with a great chance of qualifying.
Sudan’s 1-0 win at home to group leaders Gabon has put them in a strong position to make it back-to-back Afcons for the first time since 1970 and 1972.
June: Gabon vs DR Congo / Sudan vs Mauritania
September: DR Congo vs Sudan / Mauritania vs Gabon
Tunisia remain unbeaten and secured qualification thanks to a 1-0 win over Libya in Benghazi.
Libya must win away in Botswana, who are already out, and then also defeat Equatorial Guinea at home in their final match to have any chance of going through ahead of the National Thunder who currently occupy second spot in the group.
June: Equatorial Guinea vs Tunisia / Botswana vs Libya
September: Tunisia vs Botswana / Libya vs Equatorial Guinea
With Zimbabwe ineligible to take part and Morocco already through after winning both of their opening matches, Liberia’s 2-2 draw in Johannesburg, which came courtesy of a 91st-minute equaliser, set up a winner-takes-all encounter between the same two countries on matchday four.
Two goals from Lyle Foster in Monrovia saw Bafana Bafana prevail 2-1, denying the Lone Stars a first Afcon appearance since 2002.
12 June: South Africa vs Morocco
4 September: Morocco vs Liberia
Defending champions Senegal continue to brush aside all opposition in Group L and defeated Mozambique 1-0 in Maputo to make it a maximum 12 points from four matches and book their place in Ivory Coast.
Second place is very much up for grabs with Mozambique in pole position at present after Rwanda and Benin played out a pair of 1-1 draws.
June: Benin vs Senegal / Rwanda vs Mozambique
September: Mozambique vs Benin / Senegal vs Rwanda
Super League: St Helens 38-0 Wakefield Trinity – Saints claim routine win over bottom side
|St Helens (12) 38|
|Tries: Percival, Hopoate, Makinson, Dodd, Hurrell 2, Lomax Goals: Percival 5|
|Wakefield (0) 0|
Champions St Helens scored seven tries in a comfortable Super League win over winless Wakefield Trinity.
Mark Percival, Will Hopoate and Tommy Makinson all touched down to give St Helens a 12-0 lead at half-time.
Konrad Hurrell scored twice, while Lewis Dodd and Jonny Lomax – in his 300th game for Saints – also crossed.
Bottom club Wakefield have lost all seven of their Super League games in 2023, and failed to score any points for the fourth time this season.
Saints’ third straight win moved them within four points of unbeaten leaders Warrington but victory came at a cost for Paul Wellens’ side, who lost England prop Alex Walmsley to injury in the first couple of minutes.
They were soon in front as centre Percival collected Jack Welsby’s pass for the opening score, and tries from wingers Hopoate and Makinson just before the interval provided some breathing room for St Helens.
Percival knocked over a penalty before Welsby set up Dodd to score under the posts and Tonga centre Hurrell powered over following a scrum for Saints’ fifth try of the evening.
Half-back Lomax, who was player of the match in last season’s Grand Final win over Leeds, marked his milestone occasion with a try of his own before setting up Hurrell to round off the scoring late on.
St Helens: Welsby; Makinson, Hurrell, Percival, Hopoate; Lomax, Dodd; Walmsley, Roby, Lees, Sironen, Bell, Knowles.
Interchanges: Lussick, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Royle, Delaney.
Wakefield: Dagger; Kershaw, Lyne, Langi, Senior; Smith, Lino; Whitbread, Kay, Battye, Pitts, Ashurst, Crowther.
Interchanges: Eseh, Butler, Bowes, Forber.
Referee: Chris Kendall
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