The Group A of the Africa Cup of Nations consists of tournament hosts Gabon, who will be looking to get past the quarter finals for the first time in their history. While the heavy weights Cameroon and the unpredictable Burkina Faso have equal chances like the hosts to get past the group stages. The minnows in the group is Guinea-Bissau, who are making their first ever appearance at this prestigious tournament.
After missing out on last edition of Africa Cup of Nations, Gabon qualified for 2017 edition of the tournament as hosts. They are making their 7th appearance at the tournaments, all of which have come inside the last 10 editions. However, they managed to get through the group stage only on two occasions – 1996 and 2012.
The Panthers are managed by the former Spain, Real Madrid and Benfica head-coach Jose Antonio Camacho. The experience Spaniard could benefit from the talented feet of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Moreover, the squad has plenty of experienced in the likes of Cardiff City defender Ecuele Manga and midfielder Andre Poko. The 23 year old Juventus youngster Mario Lemina is another exiting talent to watch who has plenty of trickery up his sleeves.
The major threat for Gabon in this group comes from Cameroon, who are in some fine form at the moment. But the home advantage will play a crucial role which act as the 12th man and Gabon are expected to finish at the top of the group.
- Group Prediction: 1st
- Key Player: Mario Lemia (Midfielder, Juventus).
The four time winners of the Africa Nations Cup made an appearance at the 2015 edition after a two year’s absence from the competition, but failed to make it out of their group. They last won the tournament in 2002 and was runners up in 2008.
The Cameroon national football team head-coach Hugo Broos is dealt with some major blows as a number of senior players have decided to withdraw from the tournament. Joel Matip, Allan Nyom and Guy Assembe have all decided not to take part in the competition. While the likes of Alex Song, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Stéphane Mbia and Sébastien Bassong failed to make it into the final 23-man squad. The Belgian trainer has an inexperienced squad at his disposal which could prove costly here.
Cameroon are expected to make it out of the group by finishing second. But they could face a tough competition from Burkina Faso, who has a history of upsetting some major teams.
- Group Prediction: 2nd
- Key Player: Nicolas Nkoulou (Defender, Lyon).
Burkina Faso are a regular name at the Nation’s Cup final tournament. They are making their 11th appearance here and the fifth in a row. They first draw attention when they made it to the semi-finals of 1998 edition. But the biggest surprise was in the 2013 edition when they reached the finals by defeating Ghana in the semi-finals. Burkina Faso bowed out of the tournament as runner-up after losing the final to Nigeria by a lone goal. Alain Traore and Jonathan Pitroipa were the key players that led the team to finals last time.
There is no doubt that Burkina Faso are capable of upsetting major names at the tournament. A similar run like in 2013 is hardly expected as their current form leading into this tournament is a big let-down. And they are expected to finish behind Cameroon and Gabon in Group A.
- Group Prediction: 3rd
- Key Player: Bertrand Traore (Ajax).
The Guinea-Bissau football team are making their first ever appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations. They won the qualification ground which includes Congo, Kenya and Zambia with a match in hand to book their place in their first major tournament. The head-coach Baciro Cande, a former Guinea-Bissauan professional football player is the man who spearheaded the historic achievement.
Coming into the final tournament, lack of experience and the absence of quality players could dent their chances. There are only 5 players in the final squad, who has played 10 or more games for the country. It is a young squad with average age of 23 and they are expected to struggle against established teams in the group.
- Group Prediction: 4th
- Key Player: Zezinho (Levadiakos).
Top Bet Tips from the Group A
- Gabon to win Group A at 11/8 (2.37)
- Tournament Top Scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at 6/1 (7.00).