African hopefuls braced for last push

The stakes

Group A

Senegal and Madagascar have already claimed their tickets to Egypt and the only issue that remains to be settled is who tops the group. Three points clear and with a goal difference of +8 to Madagascar’s +2, the Lions of Teranga are in pole position. Already out of the running, Sudan and Equatorial Guinea meet in a battle to avoid finishing last.

Group B

Their hopes gone, Malawi take on a Morocco side that has made sure of its finals place and is attaching more importance to the upcoming friendly against Argentina in a few days’ time. Coach Herve Renard is resting Nordin Amrabat, Sofiane Boufal, Youssef En-Nesyri, Medhi Benatia, Achraf Hakimi, Romain Saiss and Manuel Da Costa for the trip to Malawi, while Amine Harit and Hakim Ziyech are out with injury. For their part, Cameroon need a point from their home game with Comoros. Les Coelacantes came close to beating Clarence Seedorf’s men in the first meeting between the sides in Moroni, where the Indomitable Lions needed a late Stephane Bahoken strike to secure a point. Bahoken will miss the return through injury.

Group C

While Mali, who have qualified, and South Sudan, who have been eliminated, have little to play for in their encounter, Burundi and Gabon will not be lacking in motivation when they meet in Bujumbura. Just 90 minutes away from a maiden Africa Cup of Nations appearance, the Swallows need only a point, while the Gabonese, who welcome back star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, have no option but to win.

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