A record total of 36 women's national teams have entered the qualifying tournament for the 2020 African Women's Cup of Nations, Goal can exclusively report.
The Confederation of African Football (Caf) confirmed the record entry at Wednesday's draw held in Cairo, with 12 more than the teams that entered the qualifiers for the last tournament in Ghana.
It also surpasses the record 25 teams that entered the qualifying tournament draw for the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games held on February 22, 2019 at the Caf headquarters in Egypt.
BREAKING: Caf gets a record entry for the 2020 African Women’s Cup of Nations as the qualifying draw for next year showpiece was held today in Cairo. 36 teams entered for the qualifiers in pursuit for one of the 11 spots for the final tournament. #Africa #womensfootball pic.twitter.com/iASmLRo6wy— Samuel Ahmadu (@sam4wigan) December 4, 2019
In the qualifying fixtures, Zambia are drawn against Mozambique, and Malawi will take on Eswatini, while Zimbabwe face Mauritius in the first round of the African Women's Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Namibia will be up against their Cosafa rivals Botswana as Gabon get Central Africa and Angola face Congo, while the Democratic Republic of the Congo tackle Sao Tome and Principe.
Cecafa Women's Cup 2019 hosts Tanzania will rekindle their regional rivalry with champions Kenya while Burundi will confront Uganda as Ethiopia welcome Djibouti and Liberia visit Senegal.
Gambia will restart their maiden qualification campaign against Guinea Bissau, while Togo will aim to see off Niger, and Algeria will have Burkina Faso to contend with for a spot in the next stage.
According to Caf, the first round ties will take place in April 2020, with the first and second leg ties coming between April 6 and 14.
Eight nations have been given byes into the second round, including defending champions Nigeria along with Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Morocco, Mali, Ghana, South Africa and Cote d'Ivoire.
In the second stage of the series, the winners between Zambia and Mozambique face winners the winners of Zimbabwe and Mauritius, while the winners of Malawi and Eswatini tie face South Africa.
Equatorial Guinea battle the winner between Angola and Congo, Cameroon will face the winners between Burundi and Uganda, while Morocco slugs it out with the winners of the Ethiopia/Djibouti tie.
Also, Mali face the winners of the Liberia/Senegal showdown, and the winners of Guinea-Bissau/Gambia will meet Ghana, while Cote d'Ivoire will trade tackles with the winners of Algeria and Burkina Faso.
The winner between Namibia/Botswana face the winners of Gabon/Central Africa, while either DRC or Sao Tome and Principe will take on either Tanzania/Kenya, and Nigeria will get either Togo or Niger.
The second round matches are scheduled to be played between June 1 and 9, 2020.
The 11 winners of the second round have secured automatic qualification for the 12-team final tournament billed to be staged between November 23 to December 20.
FIXTURES IN FULL
Zambia vs Mozambique
Malawi vs Eswatini
Zimbabwe vs Mauritius
Namibia vs Botswana
Gabon vs Central Africa
Angola vs Congo
DR Congo vs Sao Tome and Principe
Tanzania vs Kenya
Burundi vs Uganda
Ethiopia vs Djibouti
Liberia vs Senegal
Gambia vs Guinea Bissau
Togo vs Niger
Algeria vs Burkina Faso