It’s official. Starting 2013, Africa Cup of Nations will be held during odd years. The CAF decision means that the Nations Cup will no longer be held in the same year as the World Cup, one of the reasons given for the poor performance of African teams at the world event.
The change also means that two tournaments will be staged within a year with Gabon and Equatorial Guinea co-hosting one in 2012 and Libya 12 months later. Since there won’t be much time for qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations Libya 2013, CAF approved the following qualification procedure for AFCON Libya 2013:
Countries that do not qualify for the AFCON Gabon/Equatorial Guinea 2012 will play a first round eliminatory, with direct elimination, with a view to finding fifteen teams. The period from 15 January 2012 to 15 February 2012 was chosen for this first round.
If necessary, if the number of teams involved exceeds 45, a preliminary round would be organised. In this case, the criteria for the teams to undergo a preliminary round will depend on FIFA ranking.
The second round of qualifiers , also through direct elimination, will witness the fifteen qualified teams of the first round qualifiers to play against the fifteen teams (except Libya, host country of the 2013 edition and by consequence already qualified) that would have participated at the 2012 CAN, after complete draws.
If the Libyan team qualifies for the Orange CAN 2012, the fifteen other teams will directly play the second qualifying round of the 2013 CAN.
If Libya doesn’t qualify for the Orange CAN 2012, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea will play home and away play-off and the winner will participate in the second round qualifiers.
Malawi, if you can’t make it to AFCON Gabon/Equatorial Guinea 2012 then at least make it to AFCON Libya 2013. On a second thought, it seems it will be easier to make it to AFCON 2012 than AFCON 2013. Direct elimination is scary.