The draw for the 2022 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifiers has been held in Cairo and sees a potential clash between Nigeria and Ghana for a place at the finals.
The seeding system for the tournament was based on the results of the last three editions of CHAN, meaning that Ghana and Benin were the lowest-ranked sides and will face each other in regionally-based qualifiers.
The aggregate winner of that game will face Nigeria in the final round in Western Zone B.
A total of 46 nations were entered in the draw for the expanded tournament for locally-based players which will feature 18 teams for the first time.
Earlier this week the Confederation of African Football (Caf) announced the increase in the number of teams from 16, leading to an unusual format for the finals in Algeria next year.
Caf says the finals will have five groups; three of which will have four nations, while the other two will be comprised of just three teams.
It means the top two from the four-team groups will be joined in the quarter-finals by the winners of the other two pools.
Hosts Algeria, defending champions Morocco and fellow North Africans Libya are already assured of spots at the tournament.
Zimbabwe were included in the draw for the Southern Zone qualifiers despite currently being banned from global football by Fifa and having been thrown out of Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
“In case the suspension of Zimbabwe FA is not lifted two weeks before their first match, they will be considered loser and eliminated from the competition,” Caf explained.
The delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the World Cup in Qatar in November and December seem to have had a knock-on effect on the CHAN finals, which are scheduled for 8-31 January 2023.
All qualifying ties are set to be played over two legs, with the winners on aggregate progressing.
First round first leg matches will be played between 22 and 24 July with the return legs a week later.
Those zones with just a single round, and the second rounds in the remainder of zones, will be held between 26 and 28 August, with the return legs also a week later.
CHAN 2022 qualifying – Northern Zone
Two-time defending champions Morocco and Libya were the only nations to enter the qualifiers and so will be at the finals along with hosts Algeria.
Egypt once again opted not to take part in the tournament while Tunisia were suspended after their late withdrawal from the 2020 qualifying campaign.
Western Zone A
All nine teams from region entered to take part in the qualifiers, and three teams will qualify.
Liberia v Senegal
Sierra Leone v Cape Verde
The Gambia v Guinea-Bissau
Liberia/Senegal v Guinea
Sierra Leone/Cape Verde v Mali
The Gambia/Guinea-Bissau v Mauritania
Western Zone B
All seven teams from the region entered, and three teams will qualify.
Ghana v Benin
Ivory Coast v Burkina Faso
Togo v Niger
Ghana/Benin v Nigeria
A total of six teams entered, and three will qualify.
Sao Tome e Principe were suspended from the CHAN after withdrawing from the 2020 qualifiers, while Gabon opted not to enter.
Central African Republic v Congo
Equatorial Guinea v Cameroon
Chad v DR Congo
Central East Zone
A total of nine teams entered, and three teams will qualify. Eritrea and Kenya opted not to enter.
Ethiopia v South Sudan
Somalia v Tanzania
Burundi v Djibouti
Ethiopia/South Sudan v Rwanda
Somalia/Tanzania v Uganda
Burundi/Djibouti v Sudan
A total of 12 teams entered, and three will qualify. Lesotho opted not to enter while Namibia were part of Caf’s original draw procedures but were not included in the final draw.
Mauritius v Angola
Comoros v South Africa
Botswana v Eswatini
Seychelles v Madagascar
Malawi v Zimbabwe
Mozambique v Zambia
Mauritius/Angola v Comoros/South Africa
Botswana/Eswatini v Seychelles/Madagascar
Malawi/Zimbabwe v Mozambique/Zambia