JOHANNESBURG: Senegal coach Aliou Cisse wants the September Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers postponed to allow the five countries representing the continent at the World Cup to play friendly matches.
Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia have qualified for the Nov. 21-Dec. 18 Qatar tournament and the African sides have only a Sept. 19-27 window and one week before the World Cup kickoff to prepare.
The withdrawal of Zimbabwe from Group K means Morocco are free to play warmup games in September, but the other four teams face two African qualifiers each.
Cameroon are scheduled to play Namibia, Ghana to meet Angola, Senegal to tackle Mozambique and Tunisia to face Libya home and away.
Speaking to the media in Dakar after Senegal snatched a last-gasp 1-0 victory over Rwanda on Tuesday, Cisse called on the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to delay the next two rounds of qualifying.
“The best thing (to) help the five (African) selections that have qualified (for the World Cup) is to stop the (qualifiers) in September,” said the former Paris Saint-Germain midfielder-cum-defender.
“(This would) give the opportunity to the countries qualified (for the World Cup) to do their preparations. I think we can find a solution to postpone the (qualifiers) scheduled for September.”
The challenge for CAF will be to find new dates if they postpone the 44 September fixtures as there is only one other window, next March, before the June-July 2023 finals in the Ivory Coast.
CAF plan to stage matchdays five and six of Cup of Nations qualifying between March 20-28, with the finals set for June and July 2023.
What the Cairo-based body may consider is canceling only the eight September matches involving the World Cup qualifiers and asking them to play catch-up during the World Cup window once eliminated.
African pundits are extremely pessimistic about the chances of the five, giving only Senegal, who face the Netherlands, Qatar and Ecuador in Group A, a realistic chance of reaching the second round.
Tunisia are in Group D with defending champions France, Denmark and Australia or Peru and Morocco in Group F beside Belgium, Canada and Croatia.
Cameroon face Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland in Group G and Ghana meet Portugal, Uruguay and South Korea in Group H.
Meanwhile, there were six Cup of Nations qualifiers on Wednesday and fallen African giants Algeria took control of Group F after an impressive 2-0 victory in Tanzania.
A clever free-kick drill late in the first half culminated in center-back Ramy Bensebaini nodding the Desert Foxes ahead.
Tanzania rarely threatened to equalize before substitute Mohamed Amoura sealed success with a thunderous close-range shot a minute from time.
Algeria boasted a 35-match unbeaten record before the wheels came off this year in a Cup of Nations title defense and World Cup playoff.
After drawing with Sierra Leone in the African tournament, they fell to Equatorial Guinea and the Ivory Coast to make a stunning first-round exit having traveled to Cameroon as one of the title favorites.
Algeria then won away to Cameroon in a World Cup playoff only to concede late in extra time at home and lose on away goals.
The win in Tanzania, coupled with second seeds Uganda draw 1-1 at home to Niger, means the two-time African champions have a four-point lead after just two rounds.
Congo Brazzaville put a four-goal Group G mauling in Mali behind them by edging 2021-2022 Cup of Nations giant-killers the Gambia 1-0 in Brazzaville through an Antoine Makoumbou goal.
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