Africa Cup of Nations Qualification Preview: Egypt, Nigeria target AFCON return

Just over four months since the Africa Cup of Nations final, qualification for the next staging of the tournament gets under way this week.

Hector Cuper's first key assignment as Egypt coach begins on Sunday as the seven-time continental champions begin qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Egypt were absent from the most recent AFCON after bowing out in qualification, with the former Inter boss appointed in March.

Cuper's men are at home to Tanzania, while the other fixture in Group G sees 2013 champions Nigeria host Chad.

Stephen Keshi's men also failed to qualify for this year's competition and the Super Eagles' qualification build-up has been marred by reports of a bust-up between the coach and midfielder John Obi Mikel.

"I don't have a problem with Mikel," Keshi responded this week.

"I spoke with him before I invited his fellow players for this game. We don't need him at this moment. In September we might need his services if he is available."

Ghana will be heavy favourites to move into the next round from Group H as this year's beaten finalists welcome Mauritius while group rivals Mozambique and Rwanda meet in Maputo.

Holders Ivory Coast travel to hosts and automatic qualifiers Gabon for a friendly without influential midfielder Yaya Toure with Sierra Leone and Sudan looking to get some early momentum in the only three-team group.

George Weah junior - son of the legendary Liberia striker - could make his international debut for James Debbah's men when they face Togo in Lome.

Elsewhere in Group A, Africa's lowest-ranked side Djibouti will hope to pull off a surprise result against Tunisia while Aliou Cisse takes charge of his first competitive Senegal match against Burundi in Dakar.

The former Senegal international has been keen to play down his side's favourites tag, but will nonetheless be confident following March's friendly win over Ghana.

Group K's other fixture sees COSAFA Cup winners Namibia travel to Niger, while there are also away trips for Libya, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, who travel to Morocco, Guinea and Malawi.

Group M favourites Cameroon and South Africa face Mauritania and Gambia, with Cape Verde Islands hosting Sao Tome e Principe and Guinea-Bissau taking on Zambia.

Elsewhere, Uganda and Burkina Faso entertain Botswana and Comoros, and Congo and Congo DR take on Kenya and Madagascar.

In Group C, Equatorial Guinea - hosts of 2015's competition - welcome Benin as Mali face South Sudan. Guinea-Bissau meet Zambia in Ndola with Algeria taking on Seychelles and Lesotho travelling to Ethiopia.