(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles has been drawn in group J alongside Algeria, Ethiopia and Lesotho for the 2017 African Cup of Nations (CAN 2017) which will be held in Gabon.
The draw which saw 52 of the 54 member countries of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) divided into 13 different group for the qualifiers took place at the CAF headquarters in Cairo on Wednesday.
Qualification matches for the 2017 competition is expected to start in June.
The Seychelles national team will be travelling to Algiers for its first match with the game against the Algerian side set for the weekend of June 12 to 14.
The encounter will be a tough test for the Indian Ocean archipelago’s team as Algeria managed to reach the last 16 stage at the 2014 FIFA World Cup but lost 1-2 against the current World Champion, Germany.
"For us, facing Algeria will be difficult considering it managed to put on a good show at the last World Cup. Ethiopia is also a team that is growing in strength while Lesotho is the only team that is at our level,” the caretaker coach of Seychelles national team Ulrich Mathiot told SNA in a phone interview on Thursday.
The teams that will qualify for the next African Cup of Nations which will be played between the months of January and February 2017 will include the winners of each of the 13 groups.
The two best-placed runners-up in each group will also book a place at the tournament except the group which contains the host country, Gabon, whose matches will be considered friendlies and where only the winner will qualify, according to an article published by BBC Sports.
Gabon won the bid the host the competition ahead of Ghana and Algeria.
The African Cup of Nations is held every two years. The defending champion is Cote D’Ivoire that won the competition in Equatorial Guinea in February this year.
Guinea replaced Morocco as the host nation after the country said it wanted to postpone the tournament due to fears over the Ebola epidemic.
The Seychelles Football Federation SFF, also decided to forfeit the island nation’s return leg match against Sierra Leone in August last year, for CAN 2015, over Ebola fears that was affecting West Africa.
Aside of its first qualifying match for CAN 2017 in June, the next couple of months, until at least October, look quite busy for the archipelago’s national football team.
One important competition is the Indian Ocean island games that will take place from August 1 to 9, 2015 in the neighbouring Indian Ocean island of Reunion.
Seychelles won the event's gold medal in the last games in 2011, of which it was the host nation.
SFF has indicated that it will have to revise its schedule to accommodate the upcoming competitions.
"Next week the federation will meet to discuss the team’s preparations because we need to have several tournaments before the Indian Ocean island games, in order to better prepare the team," Mathiot told SNA.
The upcoming events will start next month with the Council of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) Cup 2015 to be held in South Africa from May 17 to 30.
"We hope that the players will obtain the necessary release from their workplace for training because the national team needs a lot of preparation and it is important that all players are present," said Mathiot.
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