Follow It's Round and It's White on Facebook

AFCON 2017: Meet the contenders, pretenders and outsiders

Friday 13th January 2017
Africa will be agog this weekend as the 31st edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) takes centre stage in Gabon. The biennial tournament as often as in the past will parade some of the continent's biggest and brightest talents.

Sixteen teams will jostle it out for who succeeds Cote d'Ivoire - while the Elephants are expected to resist any attempt to be dethroned as African champions. However, only one team will emerge as kings of the continent come 5th February at the Stade de l'Amitié, Libreville.With that in mind, we take a look at the genuine contenders, pretenders, and underdogs for the crown.


Cote d'Ivoire

Cote d'Ivoire's golden generation seem to be slowly fading away but nevertheless, the Elephants are still a force to be reckoned with on the continent. The likes of Manchester United's Eric Bailly, Paris Saint-Germain's Serge Aurier, and Wilfred Zaha will more than make up for the absence of some of the more experienced bunch. They face DR Congo, Morocco and Togo in Group C.


Egypt might only be staging a comeback to the competition after missing the last three editions but the Pharaohs are very much in the race for the title. Record seven-time champions, Egypt, qualified at the expense of another heavyweight, Nigeria, which should fire up Héctor Cúper's lads. They are drawn against Mali, Ghana, and Uganda in Group D.


Probably Africa's best team on paper, Algeria head to Gabon with loads of pressure and expectations. This is because the Desert Foxes haven't won the title in over 27 years and presently parades probably the best assemblage of Algerian players in history. The form of Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani, Yacine Brahimi and Nabil Bentaleb should be enough to end their miserable trophy drought.



Senegal (33) head to the 2017 AFCON tourney as Africa's top-ranked team in the world. The Terenga Lions sealed a spot in Gabon with a 100 percent record having won all their qualifying games. But it might just be another mediocre outing for Aliou Cissé's team who despite their large pool of superstars have never tasted AFCON glory.


Ghana just like Senegal hit every AFCON tourney with the favourites tag but strangely disappoint at the end. The Black Stars have made it to the semi-finals in the last five editions but failed to win the trophy in each of those occasions. Their title drought which stretches to almost 30 years looks likely to continue in Gabon.


DR Congo

One team who will most likely stage an upset in Gabon is DR Congo. The Leopards, champions in 1968 and 1974 were one of the most consistent sides during the qualifying series winning five games. Though Florent Ibengé's side will be without influential Everton forward, Yannick Bolasie, his team - playing with little pressure could just upset the likes of Cote d'Ivoire, Morocco and Togo in C.


Many will expect Uganda to be satisfied with just making up the numbers in Gabon. This isn't far from the fact that the Cranes hasn't qualified for any major tournament since 1978 where they finished second. However, the likes of Egypt, Mali and Ghana, should expect a tough contest against the East Africans who are led by Serbian coach, Milutin Sredojević.
Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 

Total articles: 471

Latest Opinion Articles