Rwanda set for tough Afcon 2015 qualification
Rwanda’s Amavubi team will endure tough times when the 2015 Africa Nations Cup qualification gets underway later this year.
According to the Confederation of African Football (CAF), a restructured format will see Rwanda begin the qualification process in the preliminary round to be able to qualify for Morocco next year.
The qualifying format was approved during CAF’s Executive Committee meeting held last Friday, differs from the ‘Pools’ format that had been decided in January last year.
The qualifying draw will be conducted on April 27 in Cairo, Egypt, after which Rwanda will be able to know their preliminary round opponents.
If Amavubi manage to negotiate their way out of the preliminaries that could pit them against two formidable outfits, they will join one of the seven groups that will comprise of four teams each.
The two top teams of each group will then qualify for the Nations Cup directly, along with the third-best placed team from the seven groups.
Unlike in the past where qualifiers had to run the course of approximately a year, the 2015 qualifiers will be held in just three months (September, October and November).
Out of the 51 countries engaged in these qualifiers, the top 21 teams listed in the CAF ranking shall automatically qualify for the group phase.
The seven others partaking in the group phase shall be determined following the conclusion of the preliminary rounds, held from May to August 2014.
The top 21 countries were determined by a total points tally gathered from performances over the three previous Nations Cup tournaments (2010, 2012 and 2013), qualifiers to these editions, as well as the qualifiers to the 2014 World Cup.
The most recent editions were given more weight in determining the seeded teams.
The 2013 edition’s points were multiplied by 3, the 2012 by 2 and the 2010 edition by 1.
Countries that qualified for the World Cup were offered seven points, play-off finalists five; then second, third and fourth placed teams in the group stages were accorded three, two and one point respectively.
After the above process, Rwanda was placed 35th on the table together with Gambia with just 3.5 points. It means Rwanda could face any of the teams that were placed 30th and above.
And this could lead up to fixtures against either the likes of Libya, Equatorial Guinea, Botswana, Uganda, Malawi, Benin, Congo Brazzaville, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Liberia or or any of the other East Africa rivals Tanzania, Burundi, Eritrea and South Sudan.
Automatically qualified for group stages: Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Tunisia, Algeria, Angola, Cape Verde, Togo, Egypt, South Africa, Cameroon, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Niger, Guinea, Senegal and Sudan
The preliminary rounds of the qualifying process will be played between May and August, with the final phase taking place from September 5 until November 26.