Mauritania and Mauritius set for 2015 qualifier

Mauritania and Mauritius set for 2015 qualifier2015_Africa_Cup_of_Nations Mauritania host Mauritius on Saturday in the first leg of a preliminary round qualifier for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. The match, which will be held in Nouakchott and kick off at 1600 BST, throws together two teams just two places apart in the Fifa rankings for African sides. But Mauritius, who sit the lower of the two in 45th place, will be without two key players. Midfielder Kevin Bru has not been released by his Bulgarian club Levski Sofia because of their major championship matches and fellow midfielder Fabrice Pithia has opted to play for the Reunion Island team Jeanne d'Arc. "It was quite difficult to finalize the selection but we will deal with it even though it would have been interesting if these two players were in the team, but we'll do without them", coach Akbar Patel said. "We need to play these international matches as last year we had only five games; two in the Cosafa Cup, two against Zimbabwe in the CHAN and a match in Qatar. "We had two preparatory games before leaving Mauritius; one against foreigners playing in the local league and the other against AS Port Louis 2000. "We hope to pass this preliminary round and attain at least the group stage. But to get there we will still have to play two preliminary matches." Hosts Mauritania will be keen to make the most of home advantage and England-based left-back Ahmed Ahmedou told BBC Sport the country is experiencing a football revival, with bigger crowds attending the national team's recent matches. Ahmedou is confident Mauritania have the players to achieve a good result and make those fans happy. "I don't really know a lot about Mauritius, I think they have one or two good players... but I am more concentrated on our team and how we will play," he said, "I'm sure it will be a good challenge for us. "We have a young player, Adama Ba (pictured top), who plays for Bastia in the French first division - I think he is going to be a key player - and we have our captain, Dominique Da Silva, who plays for Zamalek in Egypt. He is a great player and a great captain. "We have a few players from Mauritania as well, one of whom, Ahmed Djiby Samb, was one of the best players at the CHAN 2014 tournament. "I think these players have the ability to get Mauritania through the qualifiers. "I am confident that we can qualify for the Nations Cup. We have good payers and a great coach in Patrice Neveu. The fans are behind us. I don't see why we can't make it." The return leg will be played between 18-20 April.