Things to look out for in the AFCON qualifiers

With the big European leagues on international break, we’ll be treated to some sumptuous African matches in the AFCON qualifiers. Here’s a brief look at what awaits us.

Salah to rediscover Midas touch?
Mohamed Salah has seen better days in his career with the Egyptian national team. The prolific Pharaoh made headlines last season for his blistering performance in the Premier League, but went on to suffer a disappointing World Cup campaign with his country. However, he’s slowly been finding his feet in the Premier League again and it could translate well to his national side. Egypt had been on a five-match losing streak prior to their last match against Niger. The game ended 6-0 with Salah appearing twice on the score sheet. With Swaziland next on the gauntlet, we expect the Liverpool danger man to make a strong comeback.

Kondogbia’s high profile debut for CAR
Geoffrey Kondogbia will get his first taste of African football this week when he joins the Central African Republic in the AFCON qualifiers. The former French international has now switched colours and will now be representing the country of his ancestors. The fact that the only match he ever played for France was a friendly made it easy for FIFA to accord Kondogbia the change in sporting nationality. He’s a top midfielder at Valencia and a world renowned star in general. Without a doubt, the Fauves du Bas-Oubangui will be keen to implicate him from the onset. Their Swiss coach Raoul Savoy is set to line up the former Monaco man against Ivory Coast in the first match of their double header.

Super eagles to keep soaring
Nigeria are arguably the most well recognised footballing nation on the African continent. They hit a rough patch in the past months but have been slowly clawing their way back with victory over the Seychelles in their last AFCON qualifier. They are coming off the back of a resounding 3-0 win over Seychelles, and the stars seem to be lining up in the Super Eagles’ favour as they get ready to take on Libya this week. The North Africans’ coach Adel Amrouche has resigned from national duty just a few days before the big clash in Kaduna. Considering how Spain failed to recover after Julen Lopetegui’s sacking at the World Cup, the former Libyan coach may have well handed the Nigerians the victory.

Cranes to fly back home
The Ugandan national team will be counting on its foreign exports to do the job against Lesotho this week. Out of the 24 players selected by Sebastian Desabre, only eight of them ply their trade in Uganda. Seven foreign based players are expected to feature in the first team, the most notable being Joseph Ochaya (TP Mazembe) and Godfrey Walusimbi of Kaizer Chiefs. The latter has experienced the southern African style of play first hand, and may have some insider secrets for the Cranes.

Seedorf’s indomitable start
Clarence Seedorf will lead his first home match as Cameroon head coach this Friday when they take on Malawi. The former Real Madrid and Inter Milan midfielder began his managerial career in 2014 and has since enjoyed stints at AC Milan, FC Shenzhen ad Deportivo La Coruna. The Indomitable Lions will be hosting the 2019 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations and, as such, will be under immense pressure to perform. Only time will tell if Seedorf can live up to the expectation, but for now, he looks like the right man for the job.