20 October 2016
Draws for the 2017 African Cup of Nations were held on Wednesday in Libreville, Gabon.
Host country Gabon was drawn in Group A alongside 2013 finalists, Burkina Faso, four time Champions, Cameroon and debutants, Guinea Bissau.
Paulo Duarte, coach of the stallions of Burkina Faso was in charge of the Gabonese team back in the 2013 when the team finished second after losing 1 – 0 to Nigeria in the final.
Like Duarte, Jorge Costa, the Gabonese coach is a retired Portuguese footballer. The coach of Guinea Bissau, Paulo Torres is the third Portuguese manager in the Group. This means all the coaches in Group A are Europeans.
Cameroon and Burkina Faso have met only once in the AFCON tournament. On that occasion, which was in the opening match of the 1998 edition, the Indomitable lions defeated the Burkinabees 0 – 1 in the opening match of the 1998 finals.
Seeded in Group B, Algeria is drawn alongside 2004 Champions and North African rival, Tunisia, 2002 finalists, Senegal and Southern Africa’s sole representative, Zimbabwe.
The Desert Warriors of Algeria has never lost to Senegal in an AFCON fixture. Both Algeria and Tunisia were also drawn in the same Group at the 2013 edition – Tunisia got a slim 1 – 0 win on that occasion.
In Group C, 2015 winning coach, Herve Renard was handed an opportunity to face the team he won the trophy with in 2015, Cote D’Ivoire.
Renard led the Ivorians to the 2015 title but will stand in their way in Gabon – just as he also faces them in a 2018 World Cup qualifying Group.
The two other countries in Group C are DR Congo and Togo. The two countries were in the same Group in the 2014 world Cup qualifiers with both teams failing to qualify. Both teams were also in the same Group in 1998, 2002 and 2006 AFCON finals.
Tagged the Group of death, four-time Champions, Ghana was drawn alongside West African neighbour, Mali, seven-time winner, Egypt and East Africa’s sole representative, Uganda.
Egypt, Ghana, and Uganda are familiar foe as they are also in the same Group in the qualifying series for Russia 2018 World Cup.
This group will also witness a reunion of sort for EPL stars, Ghana & West Ham’s Dede Ayew, Egypt & Arsenal’s Mohammed Elneny, Ghana & Crystal Palace’s Kwesi Appiah and Mali and Crystal Palace’s Bakari Sako.
The 2017 Afcon will run between January 14 and February 5 in four host cities.
The opening clash of the tournament will see hosts Gabon take on Guinea-Bissau.
Group A – Libreville
Group B – Franceville
Group C – Oyem
Group D – Port-Gentil
Author: Timilehin Boyinde
Oluwatimilehin Boyinde is a research writer and a social media strategist. A public affairs analyst, he writes about history, politics, sports, life matters and technology. He is passionate about happenings in Local and international political arenas. He is an avid Manchester United fan and an unapologetic Nigerian.