CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Mohamed Salah is set to face Liverpool teammate Naby Keita in qualifying for next year’s African Cup of Nations after Egypt was drawn in the same group as Guinea on Tuesday.
Malawi and Ethiopia make up Group D but the meetings between Egypt and Guinea will be the headline contests there.
Defending champion Senegal, which beat Egypt in this year’s final, faces Benin, Mozambique and Rwanda in Group L.
The qualifiers kick off in June. The 2023 African Cup will be held in Ivory Coast next June and July and will mean the continental championship is held in consecutive years.
The 2021 tournament was postponed until this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Senegal lifted the trophy in Cameroon in February for its first African title.
Two teams from each of the 12 qualifying groups will qualify after they play each other home and away. Host Ivory Coast is taking part in the qualifiers, as is now custom in Africa, but its place at the cup next year is assured, so the other highest-placed team will qualify from that group.
Ivory Coast is in Group H with 2012 champion Zambia, which beat the Ivorians in the final to win that title. Comoros and Lesotho complete the group.
Nigeria will face Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau and Sao Tome or Mauritius in Group A. Cameroon is with Kenya, Namibia and Burundi in Group C.
Kenya and Zimbabwe were included in the draw despite currently being banned from internationals by FIFA because of government interference in their national soccer federations. They will be able to play as long as their suspension is lifted at least two weeks before their first game, the Confederation of African Football said. If not, they will be removed from qualifying.
Zimbabwe is in Group K alongside Morocco, South Africa and Liberia.
Algeria, the 2019 champion, was drawn with Uganda, Niger and Tanzania. Four-time winner Ghana faces Madagascar, Angola and Central African Republic in Group E.