Crunch time for winless Egypt at Botswana in AFCON

Shawky Gharib faces the axe if he cannot guide Egypt to the Africa Cup of Nations (Getty Images)

Seven-time Africa Cup of Nations winner Egypt is facing a make-or-break match to qualify for next year's staging as it faces Botswana.

The North African giant finds itself bottom of Group G, six points behind joint leaders Senegal and Tunisia, and with the same record as lowly Botswana which it faces next: played two, lost two and a minus-three goal difference.

Anything but a win will pile pressure on Egypt coach Shawky Gharib who has been told by the Egyptian Football Association (EFA) president Gamal Allam that he will be fired if he cannot guide his team to the tournament in Morocco.

"The national team's failures are the responsibility of its technical staff. We will hire a foreign manager if Gharib fails to take the team to Morocco," Allam declared last week.

Egypt's plight is not helped by four players missing due to injury: Al Ahly goalkeeper Sherif Ekramy, Zamalek winger Hazem Emam, Smouha attacker Hany El Egiazy and Hull City winger Ahmed Elmohamady.

"I know that we are not in a good situation after losing the first two matches, but we still have hope to qualify. We will do our best in the next matches," Gharib added.

Another pedigree team which finds itself languishing bottom of its group is Angola.

A Cup of Nations quarter-finalist in 2010, Angola travel to Lesotho desperate for its first points in Group C after an away defeat to Gabon and a 3-0 home thumping at Burkino Faso's hands.

However, coach Romeu Filemon will have to unlock his squad's goalscoring potential after a measly return of one goal in its last four matches.

In Group F, surprise package and leader Cape Verde Islands goes to Mozambique looking for a victory which could put it on the brink of assuring the tiny island nation of its first ever appearance at the tournament. In the other Group F game, 2012 champion Zambia is hunting a first win of the phase away to Niger to get its first qualification victory after a shock loss to Cape Verde Islands and poor 0-0 draw with Mozambique.

Three giants of African football are fighting it out in Group D as leader Cameroon also looks to maintain a 100 per cent record against winless Sierra Leone in Freetown.

Third-placed Cote d'Ivoire is looking to bounce back against Congo DR after its 4-1 humbling by Cameroon in the previous round. Anything less than a draw will leave Herve Renard's side adrift of the group's pacesetters and under pressure in its remaining matches.

A big day in Group A sees South Africa face surprise leader Congo which has already beaten Nigeria away and Sudan at home.

The game will be played in Pointe Noire, the scene of a notoriously bruising encounter in a 1997 FIFA World Cup qualifying match that still rankles with South Africa which lost 2-0 that day. The local media has also expressed concerns over the artificial pitch in Congo but Bafana Bafana captain and goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa has moved to allay those fears.

"We are all well prepared for Congo and we will not be affected by the artificial surface. The way we play will remain the same," said Meyiwa.

"At Orlando Pirates, we played on a similar surface during the CAF Champions League. It is likely to be the same."

In the other Group A game, Nigeria travels to Sudan with only one point from its two group games so far.

In Group E, second-placed Ghana travels to Guinea looking to put some daylight between it and the team in third, while table-topper Uganda welcomes winless Togo to the Mandela National Stadium in Kampala looking for another three points.

Group B leader Algeria travels to second-placed Mali knowing a win will virtually assure its qualification and leave its opponent, Malawi and winless Ethiopia fighting it out for the last remaining automatic spot.

Source Omnisport