Africa Cup of Nations 2019: South Africa, Zimbabwe confirm qualification, as Aubameyang's Gabon miss out
South Africa and Zimbabwe booked their places in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations on the final day of qualifying action. Bafana Bafana beat Libya 2-1 in Tunisia, to ensure there was no further heartbreak, after having missed out on qualification to Africa's showpiece footballing event at the last time of asking, in 2017.
Zimbabwe and the Democratic Republic of Congo confirmed their spot in the tournament in Egypt as well. Zimbabwe beat Congo 2-0 in Harare, while Cedric Bakambu helped DR Congo beat Liberia 1-0 in Kinshasa.
Burkina Faso, who finished 3rd in the last edition of the tournament, which was held in Gabon, have not even qualified for this one, having been usurped in Group I by Angola and Mauritania.
Also missing out will be Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's Gabon, the country which hosted the previous edition of the tournament. Needing an away win in Burundi on the final day of qualifying in Group C, Gabon could only manage a 1-1 draw, which means that the continent's showpiece event will now be sans one of its showpiece players.
The tournament was originally awarded to Cameroon, but a variety of factors - including infrastructural delays, insurgency, and political uncertainty - meant that the tournament had to be moved to Egypt. Due to the holy month of Ramadan, the tournament has also been delayed by 6 days, meaning it will now start on June 21st, instead of the originally decided June 15th.
With Egypt being given the hosting rights, one can expect the clamor for Liverpool star Mohamed Salah to be at an all-time high, as the Pharaohs look to go one better, having been beaten by Cameroon in the final in 2017. Egypt will look to win a record 8th AFCON title.
Other African powerhouses such as Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast had already confirmed their place in the tournament ahead of the final matchday.
Madagascar, Burundi, and Mauritania will be making their first appearances in the final tournament, which will feature 24 teams for the first time ever, having been a 16-team affair until 2017.
The 24 countries who have qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations
Senegal, Madagascar, Morocco, Cameroon, Mali, Burundi, Algeria, Benin, Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, DR Congo, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Angola, Mauritania, Tunisia, Egypt, Guinea-Bissau, Namibia, Uganda, Tanzania