5 African Cup of Nations group stage games you just can’t miss
This year's AFCON tournament looks set to be one of the best in years - here are 5 group stage matches you absolutely must tune in to.
It’s finally January 2017, and European club football will still just be stirring up from a mid-winter slumber. Meanwhile, the African continent will be gripped in the fever of the biennial mid-summer football festival. In this year’s African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament, 16 countries will be battling it out in 4 cities.
As usual, some big names have not qualified for the finals of the tournament! Nigeria, South Africa and Zambia all miss out this time, falling right at the qualification stage.
For the 31st edition, Libya were scheduled to host the tournament, but due to the civil unrest, Gabon will play hosts to this year’s edition of the Cup of Nations. With the action set to begin on the 14th of January, let’s take a quick look at the fixtures that you simply can’t miss, and why.
AFCON 2017 Group A - Burkina Faso vs Cameroon
The very first day of football will start with a bang - the 2013 losing finalist, Burkina Faso, will face up against 4-time champions Cameroon. The Burkinabes will be looking to make a major statement of intent with this scalp - all the pressure is on Cameroon to show they’re not mere sleeping giants.
If Cameroon lose this opening tie, it could easily damage their momentum for the next two. Both teams have to put their best foot forward for this one!
Date: 14th January 2017
Time: 09:30pm (IST)
Venue: Stade de l’Amitie, Libreville
Burkina Faso Team Preview
Burkina Faso finished rock-bottom of their group in the 2015 edition, a gigantic fall from their 2013 finalist spot. For a number of reasons, they were not capable of reproducing their form. Was it a mere flash in the pan? They’ll be desperate to prove to the rest of Africa that they are the real deal.
Their qualification campaign was extremely tight, tying on 13 points with Uganda. The two teams ended the campaign almost identical - both scoring 6 and conceding 2 goals. The only tiebreaker was their head-to-head record, which the Burkinabes won virtue of a 1-0 victory in Kampala. Thus, they finished top of their group.
Goalkeepers: Abdoulaye Soulama, Germain Sanou, Daouda Diakité
Defenders: Mohammed Koffi, Henry Traoré, Bakary Koné, Mady Panandétiguiri, Paul Koulibaly
Midfielders: Wilfried Balima, Florent Rouamba, Issouf Ouattara, Préjuce Nakoulma, Wilfried Sanou, Abdoul Razack Traoré, Ali Rabo, Charles Kaboré, Djakaridja Koné, Jonathan Pitroïpa, Alain Traoré
Strikers: Aristide Bancé, Moumouni Dagano, Pierre Koulibaly, Wilfried Hughes Dah
Cameroon Team Preview
With 4 African trophies in their chest, Cameroon are one of the most successful African teams. However, it has been 14 long years since their last victorious AFCON trophy, a record they will be raring to end.
They finished at the summit of their qualification group, drawing 2 matches and winning the rest. Conceding just 2 whilst scoring 7, they look to be nearing the peak of their powers.
Goalkeepers: Fabrice Ondoa, Jules Goda, Georges Bokwé
Defenders: Nicolas Nkoulou, Henri Bedimo, Aurélien Chedjou, Ambroise Oyongo, Mohammed Djetei, Jonathan Ngwem, Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui, Adolphe Teikeu, Collins Fai, Ernest Mabouka
Midfielders: Edgar Salli, Georges Mandjeck, Franck Kom, Sébastien Siani, Frank Boya, Arnaud Djoum
Strikers: Vincent Aboubakar, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Benjamin Moukandjo, Clinton N'Jie, Jacques Zoua, Karl Toko Ekambi, Anatole Abang, Robert Ndip Tambe, Christian Bassogog