Five-time African champions Cameroon together with Southern Africa’s Namibia, on Tuesday night, completed the list of African nations that have qualified for Africa’s biggest event – the TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations Cote d’Ivoire 2023.
Cameroon, who won the competition the last time Cote d’Ivoire hosted the event in 1984, were made to wait until the last day of the Qualifiers and laboured to a 3-0 victory against Burundi at home.
Burundi started the game brilliant while dominating most of the first half with Manchester United’s shot stopper André Onana making for crucial saves to deny Burundi getting into a break with the lead.
The indomitable lions were ok back foot as Burundi dominated in the middle of the park.
A sloppy defending from Burundi’s shirt number 22 Christophe Nduwarugira gifted a pass in 18 yard box to Cameroon’s winger Bryan Mbeumo, who made no mistake and slotted it home for the hosts to break the deadlock.
The Burundi’s Intamba Murugamba couldn’t stay composed as they lost more ball possession to Cameroon, it was not until in the 59th minute when Christopher Wooh headed in the swerving corner to extend the host’s lead.
Cameroon’s ace Vincent Aboubakar put the icing sugar on the cake in the dying minutes of the game after yet another horrible mistake from Burundi’s goalkeeper Onesime Rukundo.
Now a strong field comprised of 12 former African Champions will be heading to the West of the continent to enthral football fans around the world, the continent is also fortunate to have its 16 top-ranked teams at the finals according to current FIFA rankings.
The hosts, Cote d’Ivoire will be leading a strong West African field with the holders Senegal, four times Champions Ghana and 2013 winners Nigeria all amongst this group that also includes Burkina Faso, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Gambia who sealed their qualification in dramatic style.
Tanzania returns for a second finals, their team built on the successes of the strong showings recently in TotalEnergies African Club competitions by Yanga SC and Simba.
Tunisia, who have reached their 16th successive finals, have been to every finals since 1994 and were hosts and champions in 2004.
Africa’s first FIFA World Cup Semi-finalists Morocco will be looking to duplicate their performances in Qatar.
Egypt will be looking for an eighth unprecedented title, having reached two of the last three finals in 2017 and at the 2021 edition.
Winners in 1990 and 2019, Algeria returns to go for a third title.
The Qualified Nations are:
Cote d’Ivoire (hosts), Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Congo DR, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia and Zambia
The tournament, one of the biggest events globally, will kick off in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, on 13 January 2024. Leading to the Final tournament will be the Official Final Draw that will be held in Abidjan on 12 October 2023.