IMAGE: kickoff.com

Image: kickoff.com

The 16 teams what will compete at next year’s African Cup of Nation (AFCON) holding in Gabon have been confirmed. The tournament runs from January 14 to February 5.

Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco, Senegal and Zimbabwe have booked their places before Sunday’s final round of matches. Gabon qualified automatically as the host country.

Burkina Faso, who lost to Nigeria in the 2013 finals qualified on Sunday after defeating Botswana by 2 – 1.

The surprise team to qualify was Uganda. Uganda qualified after a 38-year absence. The last time the East African country played at the Nations Cup was in 1978 when they were beaten by hosts Ghana 2 – 0 in the final.

On the flip side, Nigeria tops the list of big countries that will be missing next year’s tourney.

Nigeria failed to qualify after losing to Egypt, the only team that qualified from their group.

Six past winners will be missing in Gabon – Nigeria (3), South Africa (1), Zambia (1), Sudan (1), Congo (1) and Ethiopia (1). Angola, 2010 hosts, will also be missing in Gabon.

Egypt tops the list of qualified teams with the most previous appearances. The North African country has previously appeared in AFCON for a record 22 times. Closely behind them are Cote d’Ivoire (21), Ghana (20), Cameroon (17), Algeria (16) and Morocco (15).

Cote D’Ivoire is AFCON’s defending Champion. The Ivorien defeated Ghana in the final of the 2015 edition hosted by Equatorial Guinea by 9-8 on penalties after playing a goalless draw in regulation time.

AFCON 2017 is the 31st edition of the tourney. The earlier 30 editions of the African Cup of Nations have been won by 14 different countries. Egypt leads with seven titles followed by Ghana and Cameroon with four titles each. Nigerian has won the AFCON title three times – 1980, 1994 and 2013.

AFCON 2017 Finals Qualifiers

Hosts: Gabon

East Africa: Uganda

North Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco

West Africa: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Senegal, Togo

Central Africa: Democratic Republic of Congo

Southern Africa: Zimbabwe

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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.