The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has confirmed that it will move next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers, originally set for March, to allow the continent’s 2018 World Cup representatives to play friendly matches in build-up for Russia 2018.
The AFCON qualifiers will be moved to October, freeing space for Nigeria, Senegal, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco to schedule friendly matches during the March international break.
The five nations were confirmed as Africa’s representatives last week with the Teranga Lions booking their return to the world stage for the first time in 16 years. The Pharaohs will notably return following a 28 year hiatus.
“African teams to the World Cup will now have the March 2018 FIFA international days for friendly games after the CAF executive committee approved a proposal by Nigeria for 2019 AFCON qualifiers fixed for that period moved to October 2018,” Super Eagles spokesman Toyin Ibitoye is quoted as saying.
“The 2019 AFCON will now be played in June 2019 as against January when the match schedule was announced so there is more time now for the 2019 AFCON qualifiers to be concluded.”
The five nations are set to play two friendly matches in March with the World Cup in Russia to kick-off in June.