afcon 2015


ESINU PADMORE GBEVOR . Posted in Africa No Comments

Equatorial Guinea stepped in to host the tournament after Morocco withdrew from the tournament due to Ebola disease concerns. Their AFCON 2015 journey has been pretty remarkable. They defeated Mauritania in a preliminary round only to be stripped of the victory due to a CAF violation. They were disqualified from the tournament, only to be granted the automatic qualifying spot once they became host. CAF always has a way of surprising us with the unexpected.

And as is customary with CAF, Equatorial Guinea is not the only team that was eliminated from qualifying to ultimately reach the finals. Congo were also defeated by Rwanda only to ultimately be reinstated following discovery of an ineligible Rwandan player. This caused a serious controversy as the player in question had been earlier on been investigated by CAF and found nothing on him worthy of punishment. Eventually, Congo ended up reaching the finals.

There was also some controversy in the final match in Group D between Ivory Coast and Cameroon. The two teams just stood around the pitch for 90 minutes, kicked the ball around, and went home with each team qualified. The match drew a lot of eyebrows throughout the world for lack of sportsmanship. Eventually, they were drawn into the same finals group. That match should not result in the same effortless results as it did during the qualifiers. Now we take a look at the groups:


This group looks to be the weakest groups in the tournament considering the combined strength of all the teams do not match up to that of the other groups in terms of current form and past glories. Burkina Faso remains the most successful team in this group with a semi finals appearance as hosts in 1998 and a magnificent run to the finals in the last edition in 2013 only to lose out to Nigeria. That does not mean no team in this group can cause a surprise this time around. But the favourite to go on such a dream mazy run in this group is likely to be Burkina Faso or Gabon. The two battled it out in the qualifiers which Gabon topped the group by a point whiles Burkina Faso didn’t really have much to play for on the final day of qualification.

The other two teams have a lesser chance to qualify above Burkina and Gabon but this is the AFCON where surprises do happen not forgetting that Nigeria couldn’t even qualify. Congo has a chance to qualify. They have been steadily climbing the rankings and they could be the team that would surprise in this group. The Hosts can also not be underestimated at all as they have the home advantage and with the appointment of a new coach would have a shout at the others. Let’s not forget that Equatorial Guinea made it from the group stages as hosts in 2012 so it wouldn’t be a surprise if history repeats itself.


I expect Gabon and Burkina Faso to come out of the group with Burkina possibly topping the group. Congo would possibly come third with the host languishing at the bottom of the group.








Zambia, Tunisia, Cape Verde Islands, Congo DR

In the last 6 AFCON tournaments, there have been 4 different winners. Egypt and Nigeria are two of them and they didn’t even qualify for this edition of the AFCON. Zambia and Tunisia are the other two champions and they both feature in this group. This is certainly going to be a very competitive group top to bottom, and I can emphatically say any of the teams can finish at the top or bottom. Cape Verde has been knocking on the door of continental success for a while and this could be their time to shine and write their names in the history books of the African football. Tunisia are definitely seen as the favorite in this group, however, they were able to navigate through a group with Senegal and Egypt without a single defeat. That’s even an impressive achievement on its own. And then there’s that Congo DR team, who quietly advanced through qualifying as the best 3rd place team. It was through two defeats of Sierra Leone and a remarkable 4-3 road win at Ivory Coast. Their man is Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie, who scored a brace in their clinching win over Sierra Leone.


I would be surprised if Tunisia does not make it out of this group, in fact the footballing world would be surprised. So I pen them to make it out, but the second spot remains for grabs with any of the other teams capable of making it through. No wonder this is going to be a very tight group. Zambia started slow in qualification, but finished strong, ripping off three straight victories to qualify. That’s something worthy of note. I think the final round of matches between Cape Verde and Zambia will determine who qualifies from the group alongside Tunisia.







Ghana, Algeria, South Africa, Senegal

If you’re looking for a round robin featuring 4 of Africa’s best teams, this is it. Our rankings have all 4 of these teams in our top 10 in Africa. Who knows what to say here? Ghana has reached at least the semifinals in each of the last 4 editions. Algeria performed very admirably in Brazil, and is arguably the best team in Africa right now. South Africa went through qualifying undefeated. And Senegal is currently experiencing a revival of a new generation after much success early in the last decade. These are 4 outstanding teams, and it’s just not fair that they should all have to go into the same group. But that’s the result of using the CAF Ranking.

While it is difficult to say who will advance, at this point we believe that South Africa probably has the lowest chance to advance. That’s not to say they are a poor team by any stretch of the imagination. But the competition is extremely good in this group.


Any of the teams can definitely make it out of this group as each match would be extremely difficult to even predict. This is where I can say “anything can happen”. I foresee Algeria, Ghana and Senegal fighting it out of this group whiles South Africa would be the deciding factor to the teams that would qualify. To come out boldly, I predict Algeria and Ghana making it out of the group. But don’t be surprised if anything else happens in this group termed ‘THE GROUP OF DEATH’







Ivory Coast, Mali, Cameroon, Guinea

With apologies to Mali, their finishing bottom of this group is my most certain prediction.. But what do we know? Mali has reached the semifinals in each of the last two editions of AFCON. They are the only nation alongside Ghana to accomplish that feat. As a result of that success, they found themselves in Pot 2 for the draw. Unfortunately, they pulled Cameroon and Guinea out of Pots 3 and 4, which is a massive, massive blow to their chances. Had Algeria not already been qualified on the final matchday, Mali may have missed out on the tournament. This is an interesting group for the other three sides. Cameroon and Ivory Coast were in the same qualifying group, and Cameroon undoubtedly performed better. Back in September, Cameroon pounded Ivory Coast by 4-1. That result, along with numerous others, catapulted Cameroon to my #1 ranked team in Africa. While Algeria is widely viewed as #1, I think that the Indomitable Lions are the team to beat. These two could very well meet in the quarterfinals.


Could this be yet another year where the Ivorian’s fall short? They’ve drawn a tough group and must be wary of a strong Guinea side. Guinea was forced to play their entire home qualifying matches on neutral soil, and they were still able to qualify ahead of strong Uganda and Togo teams. Very impressively done. We see 2nd place as a virtual dead heat between Ivory Coast and Guinea. It would be rather surprising to see Cameroon fail to advance.






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