Cape Town - Guinea-Bissau
winning a group in which they were expected to finish last was the
biggest shock of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying competition
that ended at the weekend.
The tiny Portuguese-speaking west African country reached the finals
for the first time at the expense of former champions Zambia, Congo
Brazzaville and Kenya.
They will be at the 16-team tournament in Gabon during January and
February while notable absentees include previous title-holders Nigeria
and South Africa.
Five winners and five losers after an elimination
process that spanned 16 months and produced 363 goals at an average of
2.5 per match.
Have no stars and coach Baciro Cande is virtually unknown, but home
and away wins over Kenya and a 3-2 triumph over Zambia in Bissau thanks
to a stoppage-time Toni Silva goal secured top spot with a fixture to
After a string of near misses in qualifying competitions, Uganda are
going to the finals for the first time since 1978 with a narrow home win
over the Comoros securing one of two places reserved for the best
The only qualifiers to finish with a 100 percent record, after home
and away victories over Burundi, Namibia and Niger, is testimony to the
organisation and consistency coach and former star Aliou Cisse has
A stoppage-time equaliser from Mohamed Salah in Nigeria against the
run of play proved crucial as record seven-time champions Egypt won the
return match in the 'group of death' to halt a run of three failed
A chaotic start induced by a shortage of funds forced the squad to
make a 24-hour bus journey to Malawi, but they won 2-1 to set in motion a
five-match unbeaten run that secured top spot while favourites Guinea
The withdrawal of cash-strapped Chad turned the matches against Egypt
into group deciders and after being held at home in a match they
dominated, the Super Eagles fell to a Ramadan Sobhy goal in Alexandria
and were eliminated.
Instead of contesting first place with eventual group winners
Cameroon, Bafana Bafana never recovered from a disastrous
start in which they were held by Gambia and lost to Mauritania and
finished a humiliating third.
A downward turn by Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) since shocking Ivory
Coast to win the 2012 final continued after drawing three and losing one
of four qualifiers this year to end third in a group won by no-hopers
A team ranked No. 1 in Africa for one month this year needed a home
victory over modest Libya to seal a third consecutive Cup of Nations
appearance, but lost to a stoppage-time goal in a game interrupted by a
dog wandering around the pitch.
The central African country have been unable to sustain progress
after reaching the 2015 quarter-finals despite defeating group winners
Guinea-Bissau home and away. A shock loss in Kenya proved fatal.