The next round of Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in September has been postponed to allow the continent’s five World Cup-bound teams the opportunity for better friendly matches before the tournament takes place in Qatar, the Confederation of African Football said on Sunday.
The postponement had been muted for weeks after CAF confirmed the postponement of the Africa Cup of Nations finals scheduled for the Ivory Coast from June 2023 to January 2024 due to the weather conditions in the West African country.
“This was necessitated by the Executive Committee’s commitment to making room for the African nations that have qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar in November/ December 2022 to prepare adequately,'' reads a part of the CAF Communication Department press.
Senegal's head coach Aliou Cisse was among the more vocal critics of the fixtures, which meant his country would have had to play two Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, home and away against Mozambique, in the final window of opportunity in September when they wanted to play against opposition from other continents ahead of the World Cup.
Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, and Tunisia are the other African teams who will be playing at the World Cup finals in Qatar.
The 2023 AFCON qualifiers, which started with two rounds of matches in June, still have four rounds remaining.
CAF said match day three and match day four qualifiers have been moved to March 20-28 next year, the fifth round to June 12-20 2023 while match day six will be played on September 4-12 2023.
Tanzania is sitting third in Group F of 2023 AFCON qualifiers, which will culminate in the finals that will be hosted by Ivory Coast, with just a single point from two games following a 1-1 away draw with Niger and a 2-0 home defeat to Algeria.
Strong favourite, Algeria, is at the top of the table with six points having beaten both East African teams, Niger is sitting second with two points and Uganda is languishing at the bottom with one point.
Tanzania must use the remaining four games, a back-to-back encounter with Uganda in March, a clash against Niger in Dar es Salaam in June, and a trip to Algeria in September to secure second place and qualify for the AFCON finals for the third time.