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Ivory Coast coaching candidates take centre stage in Africa

Former Rennes boss Frederic Antonetti is one of the finalists for the Ivory Coast post.
Former Rennes boss Frederic Antonetti is one of the finalists for the Ivory Coast post.

With most domestic leagues still enjoying their off-season, the focus remains on coach and player movements across the African continent. This week, the current champions, Ivory Coast, narrowed their search for a new manager, while there were some big moves being mulled by players from South Africa and Ghana. And there is some on-field action, as a country that has not hosted an international in more than a year has been given permission to stage a match. Here's the news round-up:

Who will coach...

 By Colin Udoh

Nigeria seemingly on unending search for a permanent home

The Akwa Ibom Stadium in Uyo is the only stadium in Nigeria that has natural grass and is up to international standard.

Kaduna, Uyo, Calabar, Benin, Abuja, Abeokuta and Port Harcourt. What do these Nigerian cities have in common? They have all played host to the Super Eagles at different times over the past decade.

It is not by choice. Between cash troubles and a gaping inadequacy in natural grass playing surfaces, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) usually finds itself caught between a rock and a hard place.

In days of yore, Lagos used to be the undisputed home of the senior national team. And a formidable home...

Neil Tovey must shape South African football amid questions over his role

Neil Tovey celebrates South Africa's African Nations Cup victory with Nelson Mandela in 1996.

The South African Football Association has finally called on one of their most successful faces as they look to emulate and ultimately go beyond the success of their 1996 African Nations Cup victory.

Neil Tovey, who captained the team to their only continental triumph, has been appointed technical director of the federation for the next five years but his influence may not be felt at the highest level, where it may be most needed.

Tovey's new job will focus more on grassroots with his main task...

 By Colin Udoh

The uneasy marriage of Stephen Keshi and the Nigeria Football Federation

A once cordial relationship between the Nigeria Football Federation and Nigeria manager Stephen Keshi is quickly eroding.

Despite protestations to the contrary, last weekend's events have very clearly illustrated that the seemingly calm relationship between Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi and his employers at the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) was just the prelude to a storm.

Things bubbled over on Friday when the NFF found Keshi's name on a shortlist published by the Ivory Coast FA. According to the Ivorians, the listed coaches had "indicated their intentions" to replace manager Herve Renard, who left last month...

 By Nick Ames

Swaziland cause a shock and Emmanuel Adebayor shines for Togo

The road to Gabon for the 2017 African Nations Cup has begun.

The first matchday of the 2017 African Nations Cup qualifiers saw big scorelines, a major shock, more headlines from Emmanuel Adebayor and some signs that an underachieving region might just be stirring. Here are five talking points from the weekend's games.

Uneven contests may be a necessary evil

African Nations Cup qualifying tournaments constantly differ in shape and size but the most competitive editions tend to occur when the quality has been filtered by one or more preliminary rounds between...

 By Nick Ames

Nigeria & Egypt under pressure as Africa Cup of Nations qualifying starts

Ivory Coast players received national honours after winning the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year -- and now qualifying starts again.

Only four months have passed since Boubacar Barry's penalty completed a topsy-turvy Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea, giving Ivory Coast an emotional victory.

There is rarely too much pause for thought between editions of a biennial tournament, and now it all begins again -- with 51 teams battling to join hosts Gabon in the 2017 competition.

It is a sprawling, 13-group qualifying tournament that will take 15 months to complete. Here are a few pointers for the first round of matches as...