NAIROBI, Kenya, April 27- Harambee Stars will launch their 2015 Africa Cup of Nations bid with a relatively easy two-legged knockout tie against tiny Comoros Islands in the preliminary qualification round for the 30th edition of the biennial continental showpiece; according to the draw released by CAF.
The winner of the two-legged knockout tie between Stars; who are ranked 32nd in Africa and 109 in the world in the latest FIFA Rankings against the team that is 50th in the continent/198th in the world will face the winners of the clash between Liberia and Lesotho in the second round.
Should they navigate the second stage against most likely fading force Liberia, Adel Amrouche’s side who last joined the Afcon party in 2004; will enter a tough final qualification pool featuring last year’s beaten finalists, Burkina Faso, the side Kenya registered their sole victory in the finals with a 3-1 reverse in Tunisia, Angola and Gabon in Group C.
It will be the first time for Kenya to face the Comoros in a FIFA/CAF sanctioned match with Stars hosting the islanders between May 16 and 18 for the opening leg with the away fixture slated for the Madaraka Day weekend of May 31 and June 1.
Second round matches are programmed for July 18 to 20 for the first leg with the returns between August 1 and 3 with the final qualifiers taking place from September 5 and 6 to November 19.
The deciding qualifiers will see teams battle for 15 places to join hosts Morocco for the final tournament next January.
Ivory Coast, Cameroon in ‘Group of Death’
One of the most revered teams between titans Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon will miss the party after they were drawn together in Group D.
Four-time winners, Cameroon, will have to contend with rivals, the Elephants and DR Congo with the proverbial ‘group of death’ completed by the winner of the Swaziland/Sierra Leone – Gambia/Seychelles.
The Indomitable Lions have been absent from the last two editions of the showpiece African football tournament and will be seeking to make the grade this time.
Another interesting group is Group F which houses record winners, Egypt, Tunisia and Senegal to be joined by the winner of Burundi/Botswana – Central African Republic/Guinea Bissau.
Reigning champions, Nigeria find themselves in Group A with South Africa, Sudan and the winner of Namibia/Congo – Libya/Rwanda.
Group B has Mali, Algeria, Ethiopia and the winner of Sao Tome e Principe/Benin – Malawi/Chad.
Ghana’s Black Stars are in Group E with neighbours Togo, Guinea and the winner of Madagascar/Uganda – Mauritania/Equatorial Guinea preliminaries whereas Zambia, victors of the 2012 edition held in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea are in Group E with Cape Verde, Niger and the winner of Tanzania/Zimbabwe – Mozambique/South Sudan.
Group A: Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Namibia/Congo/Libya/Rwanda
Group B: Mali, Algeria, Ethiopia, winner of SaoTome/Benin/Malawi/Chad
Group C: Burkina Faso, Angola, Gabon, winner of Liberia/Lesotho/Kenya/Comoros
GroupD: Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, DR Congo, winner of Swaziland/SierraLeone/Gambia/Seychelles
Group E: Ghana, Togo, Guinea, winner of Madagascar/Uganda/Mauritania/EqGuinea.
Group F: Zambia, Cape Verde, Niger, winner of Tanzania/Zimbabwe/Mozambique/SouthSudan.
Group G: Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, winner of Burundi/Botswana/CAR/GuineaBissau.