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European Club Finals Heroes Shift Focus to World Cup in Africa

European Club Finals Heroes Shift Focus to World Cup in Africa

European club finals match-winners Ademola Lookman and Ayoub el Kaabi are turning their attention to 2026 World Cup qualifying in Africa, starting Wednesday, with 52 fixtures scheduled over seven days.

Lookman, who scored a hat-trick for Atalanta in their Europa League victory last month, ended Bayer Leverkusen’s 51-match unbeaten streak in domestic and international competitions. The 26-year-old London-born striker is poised to lead Nigeria’s attack against South Africa in Uyo, in a rematch of the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals, which the Super Eagles won on penalties.

A week after Lookman’s heroics in Dublin, Moroccan El Kaabi headed the extra-time winner for Olympiakos against Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final in Athens. El Kaabi is expected to feature in the Atlas Lions’ attack against Zambia in Agadir, another repeat of a Cup of Nations match, where Morocco secured a 1-0 victory in the Ivory Coast last January.

Meanwhile, Kenya is among 17 nations that must host home matches at neutral venues due to sub-standard facilities, ongoing stadium renovations, or security concerns.

Here, AFP Sport highlights five key matchday three showdowns, featuring 2022 World Cup semi-finalists Morocco and reigning African champions Ivory Coast.


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