Confederation of African Football Associations (CAF) has confirmed the hosting nation for the 2015 AFCON finals will be engaged in the qualifiers for the very first time.

For the first time, the host country will participate in the qualifying stages; though the matches concerned will not be computed for points, they shall count as friendlies.

The qualifiers for the 31st edition of the competition will start in June, and for the first time the host nation will participate in the process but are not at risk of elimination.

The qualifiers for the 31st edition of the Africa Cup of Nations will begin in June 2015 using the two dates fixed by FIFA, 08-16 June.

Fifty-two (52) teams will be engaged. They will be divided into 13 groups of 4 teams each. The first from each group shall qualify for the final stage, as well as the best two runners-up, exclusive of the group of the host country, which only one team will qualify.

Also, if due to the withdrawal of one team and a group happens to be left with just three teams, this group will not be considered when determining the best second team.’

The CAF executive committee has also approved the qualifying format for the 2018 World Cup, taking place in Russia. The qualifiers begin in October.

‘The competing teams will have to go through three preliminary rounds in order to bring the number of teams down to 20 so as to be able to constitute five groups of four teams, where the first from each group will qualifier for the World Cup.

‘The preliminaries of the FIFA World Cup shall begin during the two FIFA dates in October 2015, given that the draws shall take place on 25 July 2015 at Saint-Petersburg in Russia.’

David Isabirye is a senior staff writer for Kawowo Sports where he covers most of the major events.

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