Kenya and Egypt will lock horns in the first match of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers in Alexandria, with another 46 countries also kicking off their qualification campaigns.
Both Kenya and Egypt will miss crucial players in their Group G opener, with Kenyan striker John Avire and Egypt’s Mohamed Salah out of action.
“All the players have reported to camp save for Boniface Muchiri and John Avire,” Kenya head coach Francis Kimanzi told Xinhua. “Muchiri is expected in Egypt on Wednesday while Avire will miss out due to personal commitments.”
Togo and Comoros make up the other two teams in Group G.
In Group A, upstarts Chad will hope to continue with their fairytale run when they visit Namibia. Mali and Guinea are the other teams in the group, taking each other on in Bamako.
Equally, there should be fireworks in Group B when Burkina Faso entertain Uganda in Ouagadougou on Thursday, with a baptism of fire for Uganda’s new Northern Irish coach Johnny McKinstry, who replaces French tactician Sebastien Desabre.
In Group C, Ghana will host South Africa as both teams look to shake off recent lethargic performances. Thursday’s encounter in Cape Coast will be the first competitive match for South Africa’s new coach Molefi Ntseki.
In Group D, Angola will face off against Gambia, but more attention is likely to be focused on the other tie between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Gabon in Kinshasa on Thursday.
Group E sees the Central African Republic face Burundi, while Morocco play Mauritania on Friday in Rabat.
Hosts Cameroon are guaranteed a place in the finals, but feature in the qualifying tournament regardless, in Group F alongside Cape Verde, Mozambique and Rwanda.
Group H features reigning African champions Algeria hosting 2012 champions Zambia, with Zimbabwe and Botswana completing the foursome.
There is much to play for in Group I, where 2019 AFCON runner-up Senegal host Congo, and Guinea-Bissau entertain Eswatini.
Former African champions Cote d’Ivoire will on Friday entertain Niger in their Group K match as they continue their rebuilding process under coach Ibrahim Kamara. Madagascar will be at home to Ethiopia in the group’s other match.
Finally, in Group L, Nigeria host neighbors Benin, while Sierra Leone seek maximum points against Lesotho.