The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers was wrapped up this past weekend with no less than 24 ...
The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers was wrapped up this past weekend with no less than 24 matches across the continent.
While the likes of Senegal, Ghana, Egypt and Cameroon (amongst others) were already guaranteed a place in Gabon 2017 before the weekend’s action even got underway, there was still plenty of interest to see just how the 16-team field would shape up.
There were no major surprises – the only real highlights were in the race for the two best runners-up slots. The first went the way of Uganda on Saturday, with the Cranes defeating Comoros 1-0 in a nervy match in Kampala.Finally! The 16 teams qualified for the final tournament are revealed, did your country make it? #AFCON2017 pic.twitter.com/YWxB2123x9— CAF (@CAF_Online) September 4, 2016
It wasn’t enough to secure top spot – that honour belonged to Burkina Faso – but Uganda mathematically guaranteed themselves one of the two best runners-up spots, thereby ending a near four-decade wait to return to the Nations Cup finals.
Benin were looking good to claim the other berth, but their heavy 5-2 defeat in Bamako at the hands of Mali allowed Togo – who whipped minnows Djibouti 5-0 in Lome – to leapfrog them and join Uganda as the runners-up qualifiers.
There were also a few instances of big-name teams securing their qualification with comfortable results in what could otherwise have been nervy situations.
Tunisia whipped Liberia 4-1 in Monastir to jump to the top of Group A (and secure a 13th successive AFCON appearance), Ivory Coast avoided the disaster of being unable to defend their 2015 title by holding Sierra Leone and DR Congo – who needed only a draw against Central African Republic – claimed a comfortable 4-1 win in Kinshasa.
The qualifiers wrapped up with two North African giants – Morocco and Algeria – ending their campaigns with comfortable wins over minnows Sao Tome and Lesotho respectively.
All that is left is to count down the days until the draw for the group stage of the 2017 AFCON, which will be held in Libreville on October 19.
The 16-team field for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations:
Gabon (hosts); Tunisia, DR Congo, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Morocco, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Cameroon (respectively Group A to M winners); Uganda and Togo (two best runners-up).