Afcon 2023: Botswana through as Eritrea pull out of qualifying tie

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Eritrea's men's side ahead of a World Cup qualifier in October 2015Eritrea have never qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations

Eritrea have pulled out of qualifying for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, giving their opponents Botswana a bye through to the group stage of qualifying.

The two sides were due to meet in a two-legged preliminary play-off this month - with the first leg scheduled to be hosted by Eritrea on 21 March and the return match eight days later.

The Confederation of African Football confirmed both legs had been cancelled after it received a letter from the Eritrean Football Federation announcing its withdrawal.

A reason for the decision has not been disclosed.

Eritrea's men have not played a senior game since a friendly against Sudan in January 2020 and their last competitive outing came against Namibia in a World Cup qualifier in September 2019.

The east African country also withdrew from this month's second round of qualifying for the Women's Under-17 World Cup.

Ivory Coast will organise the 2023 Nations Cup, with five other preliminary ties set to take place later this month. The group stage of qualifying is scheduled to begin in June.

The 2021 edition of the Nations Cup was held in Cameroon earlier this year, with Senegal winning their first ever title.

Africa Cup of Nations 2023 preliminary play-off fixtures

  • Eritrea C-C Botswana - Botswana given bye after Eritrea withdrew
  • Sao Tome and Principe v Mauritius
  • Djibouti v South Sudan
  • Seychelles v Lesotho
  • Somalia v Eswatini
  • Chad v The Gambia

Ties to be played on 21 and 29 March.

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