Friday, May 24, 2024
spot_imgspot_img

Top 5 This Week

Related Posts

2023 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying Preview: Group C

Cameroon

Profile

FIFA Ranking: 37

AFCON Appearances: 20

Best Finish: Champions (1984, 1988, 2000, 2002, 2017)

Manager: Rigobert Song

Key Player

Vincent Aboubakar (Al-Nassr- Saudi Arabia)

Following his excellent 2021 Africa Cup of Nations the captain of the Indomitable Lions struggled with injury issues in their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying playoff against Algeria but his team was able to get the job done in dramatic fashion. Outside of the AFCON it was not a particularly productive season for the 30-year-old but Cameroon supporters know he will always turn up when called for international duty. Is a clinical marksman who always seems to find a way to get his powerful shots on target and remains dangerous in the air when Cameroon’s full backs get forward to cross the ball in.

Other players to watch

Karl Toko Ekambi (Lyon- France) Toko Ekambi was effective for club and country this season with eighteen goals in all competitions for Ligue 1 club Olympique Lyonnais and eight goals in fifteen appearances for Cameroon across Qatar 2022 qualifying and the 2021 AFCON, including most importantly the dramatic winner against Algeria. Works well with the physically imposing Aboubakar with his long stride pace and intelligent runs into the space that is opened up by the captain.

Martin Hongla (Hellas Verona- Italy) Ranked at the top when it came to key passes and creating chances from midfield at the 2021 AFCON. The 24-year-old central player has come a long way since joining Spanish club Granada at the age of 18 from the academy of former Swiss national team striker Blaise Nkufo and joined Italian Serie A club Verona permanently for $4 million after impressing while on loan.

André Onana (AFC Ajax- Netherlands) It was a struggle at times for the goalkeeper at the 2021 AFCON due to having little match experience at club Ajax since returning from a lengthy ban. However, Onana got the run of games he needed in the buildup to the 2022 World Cup playoff against Algeria and looks close to full form.

Outlook

With Kenya’s suspension resulting in their ban from 2021 AFCON qualifying, Cameroon only needs to finish in the top-2 out of three teams and they should face little issue achieving qualification. The most important thing to watch is how the team looks under Rigobert Song for an extended spell ahead of their participation in Qatar 2022.

Namibia

Profile

FIFA Ranking: 112

AFCON Appearances: 3

Best Finish: Group Stage (1998, 2008, 2019)

Manager: Bobby Samaria

Key Player

Peter Shalulile (Mamelodi Sundowns- South Africa)

The 28-year-old did not quite reach the South African Premier Division record of 25 goals in a season set by Collins Mbesuma but Shalulile somehow found a way to improve on his 2020-21 season where he won the Premier Soccer League’s Player of the Year by scoring 23 league goals for Mamelodi Sundowns. A high work rate combined with intelligent runs and deadly finishing make him by far the best striker in South African club football and worthy of a move outside the continent. The next goals for Shalulile are guiding Namibia to their second straight AFCON and to the knockout stages for the first time as well as becoming his country’s all-time leading scorer, a mark he is two goals away from.

Other players to watch

Deon Hotto (Orlando Pirates- South Africa) A playmaker with a deadly left foot, the veteran was crucial in Orlando Pirates’ run to the 2021-22 CAF Confederation Cup final with five assists in the competition. Hotto is a free kick and final ball specialist whose name is highly regarded in South African club football but his goal contributions have dried up for the national team with his last goal coming in 2018.

Ryan Nyambe (Blackburn Rovers- England) One of two players in the squad who plays their club football in Europe having come up in the academy of second tier English side Blackburn Rovers after moving there when he was 10-years-old. A versatile option, Nyambe typically lines up at right back for his club but has also featured at center back with Namibia. Has made at least 28 appearances in each season for Blackburn since the 2016-17 season.

Lloyd Kazapua Jr. (Chippa United- South Africa) After spending time mostly as a second tier starter and top division backup in South African club football since moving to play his club football there in 2018, the 33-year-old had the best season of his career in the 2021-22 campaign by helping Chippa United avoid relegation from the Premier Division while winning the starting role for his country.

Outlook

It is going to be a fierce battle between Namibia and Burundi for the second spot assuming Cameroon wins the group. The lengthy hiatus of domestic football in Namibia will not help the Brave Warriors’ cause considering the majority of the team plays in Namibian football. However, there is quality and good form in this team in the defense and attack. The matchups against Burundi will be massive and with neither team able to host home matches, the encounter on opening day in Johannesburg is an opportunity for Namibia to get a leg up.

Burundi

Profile

FIFA Ranking: 139

AFCON Appearances: 1

Best Finish: Group Stage (2019)

Manager: Jimmy Ndayizeze

Key Player

Saidi Ntibazonkiza (Young Africans- Tanzania)

The 35-year-old playmaker is a legend in Burundian football and is with the Swallows for what appears to be his final competitive campaign with the national team. A free kick specialist and technical mastermind, Ntibazonkiza spent over ten seasons in European club football before returning to Burundian football to revitalize his career and then moving to new Tanzanian champions Young Africans. Scored three goals in the 2021 AFCON campaign, all against Mauritania and certainly has a couple more magical moments left in him to boost Burundi’s chances of qualifying for a second AFCON.

Other players to watch

Saidi Berahino (Sheffield Wednesday- England) The physically imposing striker was once tipped to be the goal scorer of the future for the England national team but issues with his managers led to loss of form before committing to play for Burundi in 2018. Will not be available for the first two qualifying ties with varying reports as to the reason for his absence. Without their captain, the Swallows will have two crucial games where they need at least one positive result.

Youssouf Ndayishimiye (İstanbul Başakşehir- Turkey) Another injury absence for the first two games that could be critical, the 23-year-old had a breakout season at club level for İstanbul Başakşehir and was an important contributor as his team finished fourth and qualified for UEFA club competition out of the Turkish Super League. An efficient tackler who continues to get better and better with his passing, the central midfielder will be an important player for years to come for Burundi.

Cédric Amissi (Al-Qadsiah- Saudi Arabia) A versatile option in the midfield or attack, the 32-year-old is in the twilight of his career but has been an important player for Burundi since debuting in 2019. Will likely line up in an attacking role on the wing and provides plenty of work on the defensive end as well as the attacking quality he has been known for throughout his career.

Outlook

Important absences in the team have put Burundi at a disadvantage in their opening two matches, and with only four games to play rather than six fixtures in a four-team group this could make the difference. The combination of veterans who led the team to the 2019 AFCON with upcoming talents still makes Burundi a team with plenty of belief with their opening match against Namibia having an elimination match feel to it. Despite the missing players, if the Swallows can earn at least a point from their first two fixtures it could make the difference.

Prediction

  1. Cameroon
  2. Namibia
  3. Burundi

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Popular Articles