NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 12 – Kenya’s Harambee Stars have been handed former champions Ghana, neighbors Ethiopia and Sierra Leone in Group F qualifier for the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) which will be held in Cameroon.
Due to improved rankings, Kenya will head straight into the group stages and avoid the preliminary round qualifiers as has happened before.
The first round of group matches will be played in June with the fixture expected to be drafted soon after the draw conducted on Thursday night in Libreville, Gabon.
Kenya will be seeking to return to the AFCON for the first time since 2004 and the current Football Kenya Federation office after missing the 2017 event pegged their hopes on the Cameroon tournament.
Group L will also see another local derby of sorts with Uganda pooled against East Africa neighbors Tanzania as well as Lesotho and Cape Verde.
Nigeria who missed the 2017 edition after losing to Egypt in the Qualifiers will attempt to return to the high table of African football in 2019 but they will face stiff competition in Group E as they have been pooled with South Africa.
Group I also pits another set of local rivalry with North African giants Tunisia and a Egypt facing off alongside Niger and Swaziland.
All group winners from the 12 pools will qualify for the tournament and will be joined by three of the best second placed teams and hosts Cameroon.
The West Africans are placed in Group B alongside Morocco, Malawi and the winner between Comoros and Mauritania in the preliminary round.
Contrary to what happened in the 2017 qualifiers, the host nation’s results in the qualifiers will count and have an actual effect on the final ranking.
If Cameroon top their group, the runner-up will automatically qualify to the final tournament. No other team will be eligible to qualify from this group. If they finish second, only the winner of the group will qualify.
A scenario that might see three teams qualify for the group is if Cameroon finish third or fourth.
The winner will get the automatic slot while the second placed team will have a qualification chance as one of the best three second placed teams.
2017 AFCON Qualification groups
Group A: Sudan, Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tome/Madagascar
Group B : Morocco, Malawi, Cameroon, Comoros/Mauritania
Group C: Gabon, Burundi, Mali, Djibouti/South Sudan
Group D: Togo, Benin, Gambia, Algeria
Group E: South Africa, Seychelles, Nigeria, Libya
Group F: Ethiopia, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Ghana
Group G: DR Congo, Congo Brazaville, Zimbabwe, Liberia
Group H: Guinea, Ivory Coast, Central Africa Republic, Rwanda
Group I: Angola, Botswana, Mauritius, Burkina Faso
Group J: Egypt, Tunisia, Niger, Swaziland
Group K: Mozambique, Guinea Bissau, Namibia, Zambia
Group L: Uganda, Tanzania, Lesotho, Cape Verde