Preparations for potentially vital African Nations Cup qualifiers continued to pick up pace at the start of the week despite the fact the 2015 finals may not even take place, rendering the last two rounds of preliminaries meaningless. Teams face a key set of matches in the penultimate round of qualifiers on Friday and Saturday, and complete the process next week as 15 finalists will be determined by the group standings.
Algeria and the Cape Verde Islands have already secured their berths.
A total of 28 teams are chasing spots at the January tournament, which is almost certain to be taken away from Morocco and either moved to a new venue or cancelled completely when the Confederation of African Football (CAF) decide on the matter in the coming days.
Morocco want a postponement of the finals to a later date because of fears over the spread of the Ebola virus but CAF are refusing to budge on the January 17-February 8 timetable.
Their executive committee, meeting in Cairo, will determine what happens to the 2015 finals. The decision would arrive before the weekend qualifiers but all games were going ahead irrespective of the outcome, officials confirmed on Tuesday.
It is just whether they will have any meaning by the time they kick off on Friday that remains to be seen. Defending champions Nigeria and other heavyweights like Egypt, the Cote d’Ivoire and 2012 winners Zambia face a watershed weekend in their battle to stay in contention to make the final field.
Nigeria has coach, Stephen Keshi back after uncertainty over his future, while the Cote d’Ivoire have turned to veteran talent to try and revive their hopes.
But former captain Didier Zokora, recalled despite announcing his international retirement in August, has turned down a surprise call-up for the matches in Abidjan against Sierra Leone and Cameroon, reports Reuters.
Egypt has an injury depleted squad as they need to beat Senegal in Cairo on Saturday and Tunisia away next week.
Zambia has purged much of the squad that won them the continental title in 2012 as they have struggled to get going in their group.
Most squads assembled on Monday as a large chunk of players travelled south after weekend club commitments at their European clubs.