Women’s Afcon 2022: Twenty countries face crucial qualifiers

 Women’s Afcon 2022: Twenty countries face crucial qualifiers

The final 10 qualifiers for the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations will be decided this month – and 10 sides will be eliminated from Women’s World Cup qualifying as a result.

Uganda, who were given a bye after Kenya withdrew, and hosts Morocco are already assured of a place at the finals, which will be played from 2-23 July this year.

Africa’s representatives for the 2023 Women’s World Cup will be decided at the Nations Cup, with the semi-finalists all booking spots in Australia and New Zealand.

Twenty countries face two-legged play-offs to qualify for the tournament in Morocco, with the first legs taking place 16-18 February and the returns between 21-23 February.

Nigeria have won the past three editions but face a difficult tie against Ivory Coast, the fifth-highest ranked side on the continent.

The Lady Elephants previously knocked Nigeria out of the qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, while the Super Falcons narrowly saw off West African rivals Ghana in the first round last October.

“We obviously know what’s at stake,” Nigeria coach Randy Waldrum said.

“We know the history with the Ivory Coast and we have a lot of respect for their side.”

Elsewhere South Africa, runners-up at the last Nations Cup in Ghana in 2018, face Algeria.

“This is a step that we really need to focus on,” Banyana Banyana captain Andile Dlamini said.

“You have to qualify for the Women’s Afcon. When we get there, we have to make sure we perform to our level best to qualify for the World Cup.”