Africa Cup of Nations qualifying: Five talking pointsWed, 21 Jun 2023 06:58:29 GMT

Five-time champions Cameroon will be among 16 teams chasing nine finals places in the last round of 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying during September. While only Egypt, with a record seven titles, have been more successful in the continental showpiece, Cameroon must win at home against Burundi to be certain of qualifying.A draw would leave Cameroon, Burundi and Namibia level on points and goal difference in Group C and tie-breakers would come into play to decide which two countries go to the Ivory Coast.Cameroon had a bye this month as Kenya were disqualified by FIFA before the first matchday last June due to government interference in the sport.  AFP highlights five talking points after the latest matchday, with 22 qualifiers delivering 52 goals and the number of qualifiers rising from seven to 15.- Osimhen sparkles -Napoli star Victor Osimhen is the leading scorer in qualifying with seven goals, and there is the prospect of more to come from him when Nigeria host Sao Tome e Principe in the final round.The leading scorer in the Serie A season with 26 goals as Napoli ended a three-decade title drought netted four times in a 10-0 away triumph over Sao Tome last June.Sao Tome are ranked 184 in the world and have the worst defensive record in 2023 qualifying, conceding 20 goals.- ‘Homeless’ struggle -Playing home matches on foreign soil was not a rewarding experience for the 11 countries that had to do so in matchday five due to sub-standard stadiums or civil war.Only Burundi, who do not have an international-quality venue and played in Tanzania, won, Ethiopia drew in Mozambique, and the other nine teams were beaten.Explaining why stadiums are banned, senior Confederation of African Football official Lux September said “pitches, dressing rooms and spectator facilities are among areas looked at”. – Guinea-Bissau transformed -Guinea-Bissau, for decades one of the weakest teams in the continent, have booked a fourth consecutive appearance at the biennial African football showcase.After an unsuccessful first spell in charge of the ‘Wild Dogs’, local Baciro Cande returned as head coach in 2016 and transformed a side lacking any stars into consistent qualifiers.The best known Guinea-Bissau footballer of the modern era is 20-year-old Barcelona forward Ansu Fati, but he chose to represent Spain after gaining citizenship.- Beasts’ tall order -The Central African Republic could qualify for the first time despite a 2-1 loss to Angola after having goalkeeper Dominique Youfeigane sent off midway through the second half.But the ‘Wild Beasts’ must win their final-round match in Ghana to reach the finals — a tall order given the star-laden ‘Black Stars’ boast a 100 percent home record in 2023 qualifying.    Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Lesotho, Sao Tome, Seychelles, Somalia and South Sudan are the other nations that have never played at the Cup of Nations. – Perfect Algeria -Two-time champions Algeria are the only team boasting five victories heading into matchday six, and with a home match against Tanzania to come they are set to maintain a perfect record.The Desert Foxes are seeking a second title in three Cup of Nations after edging Senegal 1-0 in the 2019 final in Cairo, before bowing out after the first round in the following edition.Senegal have the second most impressive record with four wins and a draw and Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Nigeria and Zambia have all won four matches and lost one.