The stage is set for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations which will be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea after the final round of fixtures played this weekend confirmed the 16 nations that will grace the 28th edition of the continent’s ultimate footballing tournament.
The 16 nations are: Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Morocco, Libya, Ghana, Angola, Botswana, Tunisia, Sudan, Zambia and Niger.
In last night’s fixtures, Morocco beat Tanzania 3-1 at home to cement their lead in Group D with 11 points while an already qualified Ivory coast beat Burundi 2-0 in Abidjan.
However, the question that many people ask is whether the tournament will be as competitiveness as in the years gone by in spite of the absence of key nations Egypt, Cameroon and Nigeria.
Between these 3 teams they have won the cup an amazing 12 times with the Pharaoh’s of Egypt setting the record of being the first nation to win the cup 3 times consecutively, having won the cup in 2006, 2008 and 2010.
That said, it is an indication that other African nations are starting to improve and saying that no team is assured as spot in the competition just because of their status.
It might be a little early to tip the potential winners, however, it is no secret that Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana and Mali are the favourites to win the tournament. The Elephants romped to a 2-0 home win against Burundi thanks to goals from the Toure brothers Yaya and Kolo.
The key talking point however, is Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the tournament. Reaction to the Super Eagles less than perfect campaign has turned the spotlight on the coach and his squad.
After Saturday’s 2 all home draw with Guinea Sissia took responsibility for his sides performance and was quick to offer all Nigerian fans a heartfelt apology.
“We want to apologise to all Nigerians,” Siasia was quoted as saying by Sun News. “We have not qualified for the Nations Cup and we take responsibility as a team.
“We did our best, dominated the game and created chances, but we failed to take our chances and we gave up a last minute goal.
“We understand the frustration of the fans because they love their team so much. But sometimes, football can be cruel.”
The draw for the group stages will take place on the 29th of this month in Malabo Equatorial Guinea.
Photo credit © vanexcel3