The Confederation of African Football (CAF) Executive Committee on Friday released the format for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
According to a statement by CAF, the host country of the 2017 edition would be announced after the CAF Ordinary General Assembly scheduled for April 8, in Cairo.
CAF said that the qualifiers for the 31st edition of the AFCON would begin on June 8 to June 16.
CAF said in the statement that, for the first time, the host country would participate in the qualifying stages.
It stated that the matches to be played by host countries would count as friendlies for them, with no point.
“The host nation’s opponents in the group would earn points for matches played, including those played against the host of the AFCON,’’ it stated.
It said that 52 teams would take part in the qualifiers, with the teams divided into 13 groups of four teams each.
“The first and second placed teams in each group will qualify for the final stage, as well as the best two runners-up.’’
It indicated that only one team would qualify along with the host team in their group.
According to CAF, if any team withdraws from a group, the group will not be considered for best runner up.
CAF said that its executive committee had approved the format for the qualifiers of the 2018 FIFA World Cup to be hosted in Russia.
“The competing teams will go through three preliminary rounds to bring the number of teams down to 20.
“The 20 teams will be divided into four groups, where the first from each group will qualify for the World Cup.
“The preliminaries of the FIFA World Cup s] (NAN)