Africa: Novices Will Be Present

Comoros and Gambia will be making their debuts in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) scheduled to hold in Cameroon.
The outcome of the qualifying campaign for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) to be played next year in Cameroon produced big surprises. Countries like Comoros and Gambia whose names have never been heard in the history of this prestigious continental tournament will have the opportunity to showcase their football knowhow on Cameroonian soil after booking their qualification spots. Meanwhile, nations who have had long periods of participation droughts and very few AFCON outings like Cape Verde, Mauritania, and Malawi equally booked spots in next year’s AFCON.

Comoros performance in the qualification round for the AFCON, according experts, is a true example to justify the adages that “there is no small nation in football” and that “the ball is always round.” The country is one of the continents smallest and has a population of less than a million but had a memorable result in the qualifying campaign including victories over Togo and Kenya and a draw with one of Africa’s finest, Egypt. With this performance, Comoros got the second spot in Group G with nine points, four points behind group leaders, Egypt. The “small Comoros” foiled the qualification chances for renowned nations like Kenya and Togo who ended up with seven and two points respectively.

One of the big surprises of this year’s AFCON qualification is Gambia. For the first time in history, the Scorpions of Gambia will be taking part in the continental event. What is more amazing about their qualification is that they emerged top in Group D with 10 points ahead of regular faces in the continental jamboree like Gabon, DR Congo and Angola. Before they were beaten by DR Congo 1-0 on March 29, 2021, they had already booked their place into the prestigious competition after a slim 1-0 victory over Angola in their second to the last qualification game.

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Irregular Nations Popping Up Too
Apart from the newcomers, countries like Cape Verde, Mauritania, Guinea Bissau and Malawi, with very few outings in the continental jamboree, have succeeded to carve out an opportunity to increase their participation tally in the 2022 AFCON. The Blue shacks of Cape Verde just like Guinea Bissau and Malawi will be taking part in the competition for the third time. Mauritania on its part just picked up its second chance to mingle with bigwigs of African football.

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