Qualifying set to resume for the 2019 CAF Africa Cup of Nations
Several new coaches will begin competitive action
Three of Africa's leading talents are now at the same club
Africa is abuzz once again with a new target on the horizon following the disappointment of the 2018 FIFA World Cup™. None of the continent's national teams managed to progress from their groups in Russia, but they will be raring to bounce back, as qualifying resumes for the 2019 CAF Africa Cup of Nations.
Ahead of the action, FIFA.com highlights the major developments on the African scene in the last couple of months and surveys the contenders hoping to secure a ticket to Cameroon next year.
Morocco-Malawi: Beaten by Cameroon in their opening qualifier, Morocco can ill afford another slip – and will be desperate to impress after falling at the first hurdle, despite encouraging performances in Russia. They will have to fare without Mehdi Benatia, but appear strong favourites at home against the Flames.
Rwanda-Côte d'Ivoire: The Elephants lost at home to Guinea at the start of their qualifying campaign and need a quick response to reverse their fortunes. They will look to bounce back in Kigali, with forwards Max Gradel and Nicolas Pepe both in excellent form.
Seychelles-Nigeria: The mission for the Super Eagles is to dust themselves down after their group stage exit at Russia 2018 and get a win on the board following defeat to South Africa in their opening qualifier. Gernot Rohr's side have what it takes to prevail in Seychelles, but must cope without Victor Moses, who has retired from international football, and the injured John Obi Mikel.
Egypt-Niger: With new coach Javier Aguirre at the helm, the Pharaohs will be eager to put their opening defeat to Tunisia behind them and begin this new chapter with a bang. As a result, they will be hoping for big things from their English Premier League contingent, spearheaded by Mohamed Salah.
Cameroon: Reigning champions and hosts of the 2019 edition, Cameroon parted ways with Belgian coach Hugo Broos following their failure to qualify for Russia 2018. After reviewing a long list of candidates, the Indomitable Lions opted for former Dutch international Clarence Seedorf, with his old team-mate Patrick Kluivert serving as assistant.
Côte d'Ivoire: Cameroon's fellow African heavyweights Côte d'Ivoire also missed out on Russia 2018, and Belgian tactician Marc Wilmots duly paid the price by losing his job. Former defender Ibrahim Kamara has now taken the reins, having twice held the role as a caretaker and having assisted Herve Renard during the Elephants' continental triumph in 2015.
Egypt: Hector Cuper led the Pharaohs back to the World Cup for the first time in 28 years, but his three-year adventure ended with three defeats in Russia. The Argentinian's contract was not renewed, allowing Mexican coach Javier Aguirre to pick up the baton, with former Spain international Michel Salgado appointed as his assistant.
Tunisia: Like Cuper, Nabil Maaloul did not survive the 2018 World Cup, where the Eagles of Carthage were eliminated in the group stage. Replacing one of Tunisia's greatest-ever coaches was always going to be a tough task – so the Tunisian Football Federation plumped for another of the country's finest managers. Faouzi Benzarti is the new man in charge, for his second spell in the hot-seat.
Algeria: World Cup participants in 2010 and 2014, Algeria missed out on their third straight finals this summer and hope to put a difficult year firmly behind them. After brief stints for Spain's Lucas Alcaraz and national legend Rabah Madjer, the task of getting the team back on track now falls to former international midfielder Djamel Belmadi, who cut his teeth in Qatar.
For more than a decade, the African football stage was dominated by the devastating trio of Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto'o and Yaya Toure. Still active but now in the twilight of their careers, those three legends have been replaced by a new batch of talents hoping to do the continent proud.
Chief among them are Egypt's Mohamed Salah, a finalist for The Best FIFA Men's Player 2018 award, Senegal's Sadio Mane and Naby Keita of Guinea. All three raised their profiles, thanks to exceptional performances last season – and all three are now team-mates at Liverpool.
Aside from those Anfield aces, a gifted array of players are also carrying the banner for African football, including Mehdi Benatia (Morocco), Eric Bailly (Côte d'Ivoire), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Riyad Mahrez (Algeria), Youssef Msakni (Tunisia) and Emmanuel Adebayor (Togo).
Group A: Senegal (3 points, +3), Madagascar (3, +2), Sudan (0, -2), Equatorial Guinea (0, -3) Group B: Cameroon (3 points, +1), Malawi (3, +1), Morocco (0, -1), Comoros (0, -1) Group C: Burundi (3 points, +3), Mali (3, +1), Gabon (0, -1), South Sudan (0, -3) Group D: Algeria (3 points, +1), Benin (3, +1), Togo (0, -1), Gambia (0, -1) Group E: Libya (3 points, +4), South Africa (3, +2), Nigeria (0, -2), Seychelles (0, -4) Group F: Ghana (3 points, +5), Sierra Leone (3, +1), Kenya (0, -1), Ethiopia (0, -5) Group G: Zimbabwe (3 points, +3), Congo DR (3, +2), Congo (0, -2), Liberia (0, -3) Group H: Guinea (3 points, +1), Central African Republic (3, +1), Rwanda (0, -1), Côte d’Ivoire (0, -1) Group I: Burkina Faso (3 points, +2), Mauritania (3, +1), Botswana (0, -1), Angola (0, -2) Group J: Tunisia (3 points, +1), Swaziland (1, 0), Niger (1, 0), Egypt (0, -1) Group K: Mozambique (3 points, +1), Guinea-Bissau (3, +1), Namibia (0, -1), Zambia (0, -1) Group L: Uganda (3 points, +1), Lesotho (1, 0), Tanzania (1, 0), Cape Verde (0, -1)