News Default Djibouti vs. Liberia: Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying Preview
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Liberia national football team

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Djibouti vs. Liberia: Africa Cup of Nations Qualifying Preview

Introduction

The qualification for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations kicks off this week, with Djibouti taking on Liberia in the first leg of the preliminary round on Wednesday evening. Eight of Africa's lowest-ranked teams will battle it out in a two-legged preliminary round, with four of them moving into the group stage qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Djibouti's Challenge

Ranked at 192nd according to FIFA Rankings and 52nd in Africa, Djibouti is not only one of the lowest-ranked teams on the continent but also the second-lowest ranked team competing in the preliminary rounds. The Shoremen of the Red Sea have never qualified for the AFCON in their history and have only participated in one tournament—the CECAFA Cup, a competition for Central and East African teams.

Adbourahman Okie Hadi's side have played just one match this year, a 1-1 draw with 2023 AFCON quarter-finalists Equatorial Guinea in January. However, they are without a win in their last three games, losing 6-0 to Egypt and 1-0 to Guinea-Bissau in their opening two group stage qualifying matches for the 2026 World Cup.

Head-to-Head

This will be the third meeting between Djibouti and Liberia. In previous encounters during the AFCON qualifying round for the 2017 edition, the Shoremen of the Red Sea lost both legs—1-0 at home and 5-0 away—conceding six times without finding the net.

Liberia's Aspirations

Liberia, ranked 152nd according to the latest FIFA Rankings (46th out of 54 teams in Africa), aims to secure a third AFCON appearance in their history. Having appeared in the 1996 and 2002 editions, the Lone Stars are winless in eight consecutive international matches, having lost the last five.

Improving their efficiency in front of goal will be crucial for Liberia. They must navigate this preliminary stage to make it into the group stage of the AFCON qualifiers. In their last two games, they failed to find the net.

Team News

For Djibouti, record goalscorer Samuel Akinbinu (eight goals in 17 caps) is expected to start in attack alongside Gabriel Dadzie and Mohamed Fouad Mohamed.

Liberia, managed by Mario Marinica, will look to build on their previous AFCON qualification experience and aim for a better performance this time.

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