Several talented teenagers set to grace Afcon

Mali's forward Ibrahima Kone vies for the ball with Kenya's defender Eric Ouma

Mali's forward Ibrahima Kone (left) vies for the ball with Kenya's defender Eric Ouma during their Fifa World Cup Group "E" qualifying match at Nyayo National Stadium on October 10, 2021.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Kenya's Harambee Stars failed to qualify after unexpectedly finishing third in a qualification group that contained Egypt, Comoros, and Togo.
  • Instead, as expected, Egypt won the group while minnows Comoros claimed a surprise second spot and first ever qualification to the continental finals.

Mauritania have included a 16-year-old in their squad for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

AS Douanes midfielder Beyatt Lekweiry was a surprise call-up by Mourabitounes coach Didier de Gomes who took charge in November. 

He joins a set of teenagers handed call-ups by their respective countries including Sierra Leone's 17-year old goalkeeper Ibrahim Sesay and Manchester United midfielder Hannibal Mejbri, 18, who will don the Tunisian jersey.

Incidentally, Cameroon's Samuel Eto'o, now the country's Football Association president, was one of the youngest players to feature in the Afcon.

 He first turned out for the Indomitable Lions in the continental football bonanza in Burkina Faso 1998 as a precocious 17-year-old.

Ranked 103 on the world by Fifa, Mauritania are in Group “F” that contains African heavyweights Tunisia and Mali together with Gambia.

Africa's showpiece football tournament, that was rescheduled to this year, will be contested across five cities in Cameroon, namely Yaounde, Douala, Limbe, Garoua, and Bafousam, between January 9 and February 6.

In related news, Malawi technical director Mario Marinica has named just 23 players despite being allowed by tournament organisers to take 28 players owing to Covid-19 concerns.

Poor spell 

The selected squad includes striker Gabadinho Mhango despite a poor spell with South African side Orlando Pirates and uncapped goalkeeper Charles Thom, defender Lawrence Chaziya and winger Zebron Kalima.

Malawi, ranked 129, will face Guinea, Zimbabwe and Senegal in Group “B”.

And Seyi Olofinjana, who won over 50 caps for Nigeria, believes there needs to be a change of attitude for Nigeria to soar like previous Super Eagles teams.

“The talents have never been the problem of Nigeria. I think it is in the philosophy, it's in the structure," he told BBC Sport Africa.

Three-time African champions Nigeria will face seven-time winners Egypt, Sudan and Guinea Bissau in Group “D”.

Twenty-four teams, including defending champions Algeria, hosts Cameroon, plus powerhouses Nigeria, Senegal, Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire, and Morocco will be tussling for the ultimate football prize in Africa.

Kenya's Harambee Stars failed to qualify after unexpectedly finishing third in a qualification group that contained Egypt, Comoros, and Togo.

Instead, as expected, Egypt won the group while minnows Comoros claimed a surprise second spot and first ever qualification to the continental finals.

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