Nations Cup 2015 qualifiers to take three months


Qualifying for the 2015 African Cup of Nations will take place over only three months next year, the Confederation of African Football has announced.

It means 144 fixtures, involving total of 48 teams in 12 groups of four, will have to be squeezed in between September and November.

The schedule has been designed to fit in with world governing body Fifa’s international match calendar.

There are no dates in 2014 before the World Cup finals take place in Brazil.

It is the first time that qualifying has had to be arranged around the World Cup since the Nations Cup was switched from even to odd years.

And with difficult transport links between some African nations, the tight fixture schedule could cause some problems – particularly on routes between the east and west of the continent.

A weekend match will be followed by a midweek game in three periods set aside by Fifa, with clubs obligated to release their players for international duty for the duration.

The dates are 1-9 September, 6-14 October and 10-18 November.

Namibia Football Association president John Muinjo believes the schedule is too demanding.

He said: “Playing six international games in three months is hard on the health of the players.

“Also, some federations do not have the financial resources to afford for their teams to travel in speed and comfort over long distances in such a short space of time.

“The smaller countries are going to be affected.”

At the end of the group phase, the winners of each group and the best three runners up will advance to the final phase of qualification for the tournament, which will be hosted by Morocco from 17 January to 7 February 2015.

Caf also announced that the Nations Cup qualification preliminary round, featuring up to 12 of the lowest ranked African sides in a two-legged play-offs, will take place in July and August.


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