Cameroon Reinstate Andre Onana For a Crucial AFCON Showdon
Cameroon has chosen to reinstate Andre Onana for a crucial AFCON showdown against Burundi, as the final day of qualifying begins on Wednesday.
Andre Onana had been suspended and sent home after participating in the Indomitable Lions’ opening 2022 World Cup match against Switzerland due to a tactical disagreement with coach Rigobert Song.
However, with Cameroon needing a victory to ensure their qualification for the 2023 Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast, Song successfully persuaded Onana to end his self-imposed international retirement.
Title-holders Senegal is among 15 countries that have qualified for the biennial African showpiece, and nine more places are up for grabs during the seven-day final round.
Here, we look at the six groups where qualifying slots are available.
Taking only one point from two matches against Namibia has put five-time champions Cameroon in a precarious position in a section reduced to three teams after Kenya were disqualified.
“Our backs are against the wall,” Song admits, who is a former Liverpool and West Ham United defender and two-time Cup of Nations winner as a player.
With no international-standard stadium in Burundi, the Swallows were forced to host Cameroon in Tanzania when they last met and lost 1-0 with Karl Toko Ekambi scoring.
The Central African Republic gets a second chance to qualify for the first time, but they must defeat four-time champion Ghana in Kumasi to succeed.
Victory over Angola last June would have sealed a historic place for the Wild Beasts. However, goalkeeper Dominique Youfeigane was sent off, and they conceded a late goal to lose 2-1.
A major blow for the Central Africans will be the absence of captain and midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia, who was injured playing for the new club Marseille.
Tanzania has a three-point advantage over Uganda in the contest to accompany already-qualified Algeria to the finals.
Home advantage should ensure Algeria beats Tanzania, and Uganda would draw level on points if they beat Niger, who have moved a home fixture to Morocco as they lack a suitable venue.
With Tanzania and Uganda also equal on head-to-head records, second place would be decided by goal difference.
Mali is among the countries to secure places, leaving the Gambia and Congo-Brazzaville to battle for the other qualifying spot.
The Gambians host the Congolese in Morocco because they are among numerous African nations unable to play at home due to substandard stadiums.
Gambia made an impressive Cup of Nations debut in 2021, reaching the quarterfinals, and enjoys a three-point advantage over Congo, meaning a draw will seal qualification for the Scorpions.
This is the most hotly contested section, with only three points separating the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritania, Gabon, and Sudan, all in contention for two places.
DR Congo and Mauritania are the likely qualifiers, as they will have home advantage over Sudan and Gabon, respectively.
The Congolese have recovered well under French coach Sebastien Desabre after losing their first two qualifiers at home to the Gabonese and away to the Sudanese.
A showdown between Mozambique and Benin in Maputo will determine who goes to the Ivory Coast with group winners Senegal.
Nozambique is two points ahead of Benin, so a draw will suffice while the visitors must win to secure a fifth appearance.
Guided by former Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr, benin has yet to win on the field. They remained in contention after a draw became a 3-0 victory because Rwanda fielded an ineligible player.