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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: Power Ranking all 16 Nations Cup contenders

5:20 PM IST 23/01/22
Samuel Chukwueze Kelechi Iheanacho Nigeria Afcon 2022
Ed Dove ranks the teams still standing at the Africa Cup of Nations

  • Khuda Muyaba, Gerald Phiri, Richard Mbulu of Malawi

    #16 Malawi

    Deserve credit for holding Senegal in their final group game, although they were arguably flattered in victory against a Zimbabwe side lacking a swathe of key figures following pre-tournament withdrawals.

    The Flames are up against it against Morocco, and their run looks like to end in the Last 16.

  • Comoros national team

    #15 Comoros

    Minnows were outplayed handsomely by Morocco, although they showed against Gabon—in vain—and against Ghana—with success—that they can compete with bigger sides when they take the game to their opponents.

    That 3-2 performance against the Black Stars will fuel hope of an upset against Cameroon.

  • Garry Rodrigues Cape Verde Goal Celebration 2018

    #14 Cape Verde

    Resilient, no doubt, and Cape Verde have character—look at how they bounced back to take a point from Cameroon in Olembe—but can they really eliminate Senegal in the Last 16?

  • Mamadouba Bangoura of Guinea celebrates goal vs Cameroon.

    #13 Guinea

    Underwhelming in Group B, Guinea struggled past Malawi, held Senegal—with Naby Keita impressive, and then fell to Zimbabwe in their final match.

    The loss of Keita for the Last 16 is a bitter blow against a tricky Gambia side.

  • Oghenekaro Etebo, Wahbi Khazri - Tunisia vs. Nigeria

    #12 Tunisia

    Unexpectedly dire in the group stage, to scrape through in third, Tunisia have been ‘punished’ with a Round of 16 meeting with Nigeria.

    It leaves them with an uphill battle to progress, and while the Carthage Eagles flexed their muscles with that 4-0 rout of Mauritania, defeat by Gambia is a genuine humiliation.

  • Tom Saintfiet Yemen 010913

    #11 Gambia

    Massive overachievers thus far, tiny Gambia still stand while Algeria and Ghana go home.

    Tom Saintfiet has overseen victories over Mauritania and Tunisia (the latter in the 93rd minute), as well as securing a 90th-minute point against Mali.

    They give up very little, and can hurt you late on…Guinea beware!

  • Bertrand Traore Burkina Faso.

    #10 Burkina Faso

    Endured a tough start to their tournament with a coronavirus controversy, and were far too pumped up in their opener.

    Did just about enough against Cape Verde, but weren’t even able to beat Ethiopia in their final group game.

  • Mohamed Salah of Egypt vs Kenya.

    #9 Egypt

    Still appear unable to impose themselves on opponents consistently, and dearth of technical, passing options is a concern.

    An over-reliance on Mohamed Salah is also a worry, and while back-to-back wins should breed confidence, the Pharaohs’ run may well end against the Ivory Coast next round.

  • Gabon National Team

    #8 Gabon

    Have rode out the absences of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Mario Lemina admirably, finding unity and a sense of hunger amidst the headlines surrounding their biggest stars.

    Impressed as they took the game to Morocco, having hit Ghana with a sucker punch, and have the quality to see off Burkina Faso.

  • Emilio Nsue Equatorial Guinea Congo AFCON 2015

    #7 Equatorial Guinea

    Unfortunate to be defeated by Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea then registered consecutive victories—including against Algeria—to progress as Group E runners-up.

    Mali await—eminently beatable—and then either Senegal or Cape Verde. It’s not beyond belief that Equatorial Guinea could repeat their semi-final run of 2015.

  • Yves Bissouma of Mali goes past Richard Kasagga of Uganda during the 2016 CHAN football match.

    #6 Mali

    They certainly look solid—unbothered apart from that late Gambia penalty—but Mali are also lacking fluidity going forward (three of their four goals have been penalties).

    They’re favourites (just) to see off Equatorial Guinea in the next round, but this looks like a decent bet for a surprise.

  • Sadio Mane, Adlene Guedioura - Algeria vs Senegal

    #5 Senegal

    Fairly poor during the group stage, netting once in three matches—in the 97th-minute to see off Zimbabwe—while being held 0-0 by uninspired Guinea and Malawi sides.

    They need inspiration and impetus if they’re going to realise expectations in the tournament.

  • Achraf Hakimi Morocco 2018

    #4 Morocco

    Not a flawless group stage, with points dropped against Gabon and an inability to kill off the Comoros until the very death in their second match.

    Morocco haven’t clicked in attack, but if the likes of Youssef En-Nesyri and Ayoub El Kaabi do start finding their scoring boots, they could be in with a shout.

  • Toni Conceicao

    #3 Cameroon

    Fell behind against Burkina Faso and Ethiopia, but rallied to net six across both matches and ensure progression to the knockouts.

    Home support is an advantage, although the 1-1 draw with Cape Verde brought a few fans back down to earth.

  • Paul Onuachu of Nigeria

    #2 Nigeria

    Enjoyed a 100-percent record in the group stage, taking three points against Egypt in their opener before following that up with strong performances against Sudan and Guinea-Bissau.

    All’s gone the Super Eagles’ way so far; but how long will it continue?

  • Wilfried Kanon, Ivory Coast, June 2019

    #1 Ivory Coast

    Lethal attackers, quality midfield, eliminated the reigning champions, the Ivory Coast have been there before and look well placed to go the distance again…even if their route to the final looks tough.