23 national teams have booked their tickets to the next edition of the 24-team continental tournament, with Nigeria among the favourites tipped to go all the way after ending the qualifying round unbeaten
In a hugely anticipated return to their traditional home in Lagos, the Super Eagles saw off the challenge Lesotho’s Crocodiles on Tuesday to finish top of Group L with four wins, two draws, and no loss.
Victor Osimhen’s fifth goal in the qualifiers, Oghenkaro Etebo’s second-half finish, and Paul Onuachu’s late strike – his second in as many games – powered Gernot Rohr’s men to a comprehensive victory at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Simplicity.@67Kelechi ➡️ @victorosimhen9 ➡️ ????! ⚽??#TotalAFCONQ2021 | @NGSuperEagle pic.twitter.com/PGgun9cblN
— CAF (@CAF_Online) March 30, 2021
Qualification had already been secured on matchday five following an away win in the Benin Republic.
The three-time African champions are one of only seven teams to go the group stages undefeated, alongside Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Burkina Faso, and Morocco.
The Stadium erupted in joy as Osimhen put Nigeria ahead #SuperEaglesBackInLagos pic.twitter.com/d3zKLbaKmg
— Soccernet.ng (@soccernet_ng) March 30, 2021
Twenty-three teams have guaranteed their spots at Cameroon 2022, with the cancelled game between Sierra Leone and the Benin Republic the only tie left to decide the last qualifier.
Which teams have qualified?
Mali defeated basement side Chad 3-0 on Sunday to finish two points ahead of Guinea in Group A. Both sides qualify for the next edition of the Afcon, with Namibia just missing out despite winning three matches.
Qualified: Mali and Guinea
In a winner-take-all clash, three-time CECAFA Cup kings Malawi claimed a vital one-nil win over Uganda on Monday to overtake the Cranes on the Group B ranking, earning two more points than their rivals.
Malawi join unbeaten group leaders and 2013 Afcon finalist Burkina Faso in qualifying for the Afcon just for the third time in their history.
Qualified: Burkina Faso and Malawi
Former champions Ghana are back among the big boys after topping Group C with four wins, a win, and 13 points at the expense of bitter rivals South Africa.
South Africa will arguably be the biggest miss of the next Afcon after the Bafana Bafana surrendered the qualification ticket to 1970 champions Sudan following a 2-0 defeat to the Falcons of Jediane on matchday six.
Qualified: Ghana and Sudan.
Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Gabon will be at the continental party next year alongside the Gambia despite both teams losing their last group matches away to Angola and Congo DR, respectively.
Qualified: Gambia and Gabon
With unbeaten Morocco already assured of the group’s top spot, Mauritania knew they had to better Burundi’s matchday six result to make it to only their second appearance at the Afcon.
It helped matters that they were going away to basement side the Central African Republic while Burundi travelled to face Morocco.
The Lions of Chinguetti won one-nil to seal the second spot behind the Atlas Lions, who crushed Burundi 5-0 to end with 14 points.
Qualified: Morocco and Mauritania
Cape Verde Islands battled hard against Rwanda and Mozambique and emerged as the other qualifier from Group F, with Cameroon already assured of a place in the 2022 Afcon as hosts.
Cape Verde only made their first-ever continental appearance in 2013 and are now on their way to a fourth appearance.
Qualified: Cameroon and Cape Verde
The Afcon’s most successful side Egypt dominated Group G with three wins and three draws to sit at the summit with 12 points.
And while Togo and Kenya had initial dreams of joining the Pharaohs, it is unfancied Comoros that qualified for their first major tournament in history.
It is a beautiful moment for a national side that only became a member of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in 2003.
Qualified: Egypt and Comoros
Reigning champions Algeria put no foot wrong throughout the qualifying round, winning four and drawing two of their six games to acquire an unassailable 14 points.
Former Afcon kings Zambia would have fancied their chances against Zimbabwe and Botswana. Still, the Harare Stars progress to the finals despite losing their last game at home to the Chipolopolo.
Qualified: Egypt and Zimbabwe
Senegal cruised through Group I showing their all round superiority by winning four games, losing none, scoring ten goals, and conceding just twice. But it wasn’t so straightforward for the team’s behind the Teranga Lions.
Guinea-Bissau went into their last home match against Congo, knowing that a victory will see them replace the visitors on the second spot.
The Djurtus made no mistake and secured a comprehensive 3-0 win to pick the other ticket besides Senegal.
Qualified: Senegal and Guinea-Bissau
Tunisia concluded their qualifying campaign with a 2-1 defeat of Equatorial Guinea, the Carthage Eagles’ fifth group win – the most by any side in the entire series.
Despite that loss, Equatorial Guinea ended Group J in second place after Tanzania brought an end to their lame challenge with a 1-0 home win over Libya.
Qualified: Tunisia and Equatorial Guinea
With Cote d’Ivoire already assured of Group K’s top spot heading into matchday six, the focus was on second-place Ethiopia and third place Madagascar for the other available ticket.
The Ivorians thrashed the Ethiopians 3-1, but the Malagasies would have qualified with a win at home over basement side Niger.
But the Barea, surprise quarter-finalists at Egypt 2019, could only manage a tame scoreless draw against the Nigeriens in Toamasina to gift Ethiopia free passage to Cameroon 2022.
Qualified: Cote d’Ivoire and Ethiopia
Nigeria thrashed Lesotho 3-0 in Lagos on Tuesday to round up their Afcon qualifying campaign in style.
The Super Eagles have won a total of fifteen medals (three gold, four silver, and eight bronze) in Africa Cup of Nations history and will be among the favourites when the next edition kicks off in January.
The other group qualifier is undecided, with the game between Sierra Leone and the Benin Republic cancelled following a COVID-19 test result controversy.
Both teams can still qualify for Cameroon 2022, with the Leone Stars needing a home win while the Squirrels will go through with a draw.
AFCON 2022 Qualified National Teams
Cape Verde Islands
-sourced from soccernet.com