Following the last round of the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations Côte d’Ivoire 2023 preliminary stage qualifiers this week, six countries have confirmed their place in the Group stages.
The countries are: Botswana, South Sudan, Lesotho, Eswatini, Sao Tome and Gambia. The six qualified countries therefore join the 42 countries exempt from the preliminaries.
The date and time of the group stage draw will be announced in due course.
46 nations will participate in the group stage, which kicks off next June. The teams will be split into 12 groups of four (4) teams, with the top two from each pool qualifying for the final tournament in Côte d’Ivoire.
Facts on the six qualified teams:
Botswana was automatically qualified due to the withdrawal of Eritrea.
They are no stranger to the AFCON: They played the 2012 Gabon/Equatorial Guinea edition and are aiming for a second appearance in the AFCON finals.
The Santomeans qualified at the expense of Mauritius with a 4-3 aggregate victory. A 1-0 home win and a 3-3 away draw was enough for Sao Tome.
Sao Tome aims to participate in the CAN for the first time. The team ranked 50th in Africa hopes to mark its history this time.
Ranked 47th in Africa, South Sudan has never qualified for the final phase of the tournament. They hope to be able to play the next CAN. In the preliminary round, the South Sudanese outscored Djibouti 5-2 on aggregate thanks to a 4-2 win away and a 1-0 victory at home.
Lesotho has never qualified for the AFCON. The country has always been eliminated in the preliminary round and intends to change the situation. Ranked 44th in Africa according to the latest FIFA rankings, Lesotho beat Seychelles 3-1 at home after a goalless draw to go.
Eswatini are looking for a first AFCON finals appearance. Since 2000, Eswatini have participated in all the preliminary rounds without managing to reach the group stage of the qualifiers. It was therefore a first for the Swazis who beat Somalia 5-1 on aggregate, after 3-0 and 2-1 victories.
The Gambia played their first AFCON finals this year in Cameroon. On their debuts, the Gambians reached the quarter-finals of the prestigious tournament. They hope their fairy tale will continue with a second appearance in a row. Against Chad, they recorded a 1-0 away win before a 2-2 draw at home.