The Super Eagles of Nigeria have been handed an easy group pairing following the draws for the 2019 CAF African Cup of Nations which took place in front of the famous Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
Nigeria, who will be making her 18th appearance at the continental showpiece, were seeded in Pot 1 based on the latest FIFA Rankings and got drawn in Group B with Guinea, Madagascar, and Burundi.
First-time finalists Madagascar will try their chances in Egypt after being the first team to qualify for the tournament. The Barea have never qualified for a major tournament since their international debut in 1947.
Burundi, also first timers and have never qualified for the World Cup, will look to display their worth on the continental stage against three-time winners Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Guinea who will be making their 12th appearance at the AFCON. Their best attendance came in 1976 at the finals in Ethiopia.
Hosts Egypt, also with the most wins (7) must negotiate a tricky Group A against two-time winners DR Congo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, while Senegal head Group C that also has 1990 champions Algeria, Kenya and Tanzania.
Group D appears the toughest section with Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, and Namibia, and 2004 champions Tunisia tackle Mali, Mauritania, and Angola in Group E.
Cup holders Cameroon (five-time winners) are up against four-time champions Ghana, Benin Republic and Guinea-Bissau in Group F.
Matches of the 32nd Africa Cup of Nations finals, set for 21st June – 19th July, will take place at the Cairo International Stadium, Al Salam Stadium in Cairo, Borg El-Arab Stadium in Alexandria, Suez Stadium, Ismailia Stadium and the Air Defence Stadium in Cairo.
Super Eagles’ Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, who saw the draw live behind the Giza Pyramids just as the other 23 lead coaches, said: “It is a tough group and we have to be at our best and our fittest. Guinea has a young, tough team and we will have to be at our best against them. Burundi eliminated Gabon even with their Pierre Aubameyang. Madagascar was the first team to qualify. It would be a great showpiece of football but it is important for our players to avoid injuries as the season heads towards the end.”
On his part, Super Eagles’ captain Ahmed Musa said: “I think it is a tough group for the Super Eagles. It is important for us to stay fit and avoid injuries so that everyone would be in great shape in Egypt. We have a young team who have played at the World Cup but have not played at the AFCON. For me, we are ready for any country in Egypt. It would be an interesting experience.”
The two top –placed teams in each group, as well as the best four third-placed teams, will qualify for the knock-out rounds.
GROUP A: Egypt, DR Congo, Uganda, Zimbabwe
GROUP B: Nigeria, Guinea, Madagascar, Burundi
GROUP C: Senegal, Algeria, Kenya, Tanzania
GROUP D: Morocco, Cote d’Ivoire, South Africa, Namibia
GROUP E: Tunisia, Mali, Mauritania, Angola
GROUP F: Cameroon, Ghana, Benin Republic, Guinea Bissau