Differing fortunes for Chiefs’ interests in AFCON Qualifying

Thursday was a busy day in the 2021 AFCON qualifiers with a host of countries booking their place at Cameroon’s 2022 showpiece. There were a number of games with keen interest for Chiefs players with Anthony Akumu Agay part of the Kenyan team that took on Egypt in Group G at home. While Itumeleng Khune was part of the Bafana Bafana squad who were facing Ghana at FNB Stadium in a crucial Group C qualifier at home. Khama Billiat although not featuring as he recovers from injury was keeping a keen eye on events in Group H, where Zimbabwe were away to Botswana and Zambia were hosting Algeria.

For Anthony Akumu and the Harambee stars after learning that Comoros had sealed qualification with a draw against Togo, they needed a win against Egypt, but they conceded early in the game going 1-0 down in the second minute through Mohamed Magdy. Agay who started the game was replaced in the 54th minute. Even though Kenya equalized in the 65th minute through Hassan Abdallah, their comeback was halted when they were reduced to ten men in the 75th minute when Johnstone Omurwa was sent off and had to settle for a draw at home. The result sent Egypt through to their 25th AFCON tournament and eliminated Kenya. Comoros will be heading to Cameroon for their debut appearance at an AFCON Tournament in 2022.

Other Chiefs’ interests saw Bafana Bafana play to a 1-1 draw with Ghana at FNB Stadium. The result saw the Ghanaians qualify for AFCON and meant that Bafana Bafana are now five games without a win against the Black Stars. South Africa will now need to avoid defeat to Sudan in their final Group C game in Omdurman on Sunday. A draw will suffice as it will see them qualify for an 11th AFCON tournament. Bafana Bafana faced Sudan in qualifying for the 2015 AFCON Tournament. A 3-0 away win was followed by a 2-1 home win which saw Bafana Bafana and Congo qualify ahead of Nigeria and Sudan.

While he might not have been playing on Thursday, Chiefs’ midfielder Khama Billiat had a long night. He first followed his Zimbabwe teammates who were away to Botswana as they got a 1-0 win in Francistown followed by Zambia drawing 3-3 against Algeria at home later on. This meant that Zimbabwe qualified from Group H along with group leaders Algeria. Zimbabwe will be heading to their fifth AFCON tournament and third in a row. They will be looking forward to having Billiat fit for the tournament next year. It was a brace from Billiat back in November 2019 that gave Zimbabwe a crucial 2-1 away win against Zambia and got their qualifying campaign up and running, after they drew their opening game 0-0 at home against Botswana.

Amakhosi goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi will be keeping an eye on Nigeria’s game in Porto Novo against Benin on Saturday in Group L, where a win will take the Super Eagles across the line and see them qualify for the 2022 AFCON.

33rd Africa Cup of Nations Tournament in Cameroon in 2022 will still be known as officially the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, the tournament was postponed from 2021 to 2022 as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic.