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AFCON 2017 Group A squads & fixtures

2017 AFCON Group A: Gabon, B. Faso, Cameroon, G. Bissau squads & fixtures

January 10, 2017 By Michelle Bonsu
Ahead of the 2017 AFCON tournament, provides you with all the info about Group A. Who are the favorites? Who are the minnows? And where can you watch them all in action?

If it seems like every year there is a major football tournament, well there pretty much is. In 2014, fans were treated to the World Cup. In 2015, the Copa America. And 2016 was a footballing feast, featuring the EURO competition, the Copa America Centenario, and the Olympics.

2017 has barely started, and the AFCON tournament is set to kick off in a few days' time. 16 teams will all vie for the chance to be crowned champions of Africa and have a shot at competing at the Confederations Cup later this summer. Here, we will take a look at the four teams who will compete in Group A: Gabon, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, and Guinea Bissau.

Gabon: The hosts hoping to improve on results from 2012

As hosts, Gabon qualified for AFCON 2017 the easiest way: by doing nothing at all. Nicknamed Les Panthères (The Panthers), they're currently ranked 110th in the world as per FIFA's December 2016 rankings, with an all-time high of 30th in July 2009. Gabon's captain is currently Borussia Dortmund ace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is also his nation's all-time top goal-scorer with 20 goals. Aubameyang, who clinched the coveted African Footballer of the Year prize last year, is also in the running for the kicker Torjägerkanone (top goal-scorer prize) in the Bundesliga.

Gabon will be heavily relying on Aubameyang to help them navigate their way through AFCON 2017

Should he win it - and it would be a deserved triumph indeed - he would become the first African international in over 20 years since Anthony Yeboah did so with Eintracht Frankfurt. In any case, his obvious focus is this upcoming tournament, which will be Gabon's seventh appearance. The team are currently led by Portuguese tactician José Antonio Camacho, and their best ever results so far have been making the quarter finals stage in 1996 and 2012 (the latter of which they served as co-hosts).

Although arguably the biggest star on the Gabonese team is Aubameyang, another notable European-based player is midfielder Mario Lemina, who plies his trade for Juventus. The 23-year-old has not fully nailed down a spot in the starting XI for the Serie A champions, but has put in some solid showings when called upon by manager Massimiliano Allegri.

Gabon, of course, will be expected to get out of their group, but they could face some tricky tests ahead. Here's who will be representing the Panthers at the upcoming AFCON tournament:

Goalkeepers: Didier Ovono (Oostende, Belgium), Yves Stéphane Bitséki Moto (CF Mounana), Anthony Mfa Mezui (Neant)

Defenders: Lloyd Palun (Red Star, France), André Biyogho Poko (Karabukspor, Turkey), Aaron Appindangoye (Stade Lavallois, France), Franck Perrin Obambou (Stade Mandji), Bruno Ecuélé Manga (Cardiff City, Wales), Yoann Wachter (CS Sedan Ardennes, France), Johann Serge Obiang (Troyes, France), Benjamin Zé Ondo (Mosta FC, Malta)

Midfielders: Mario René Junior Lemina (Juventus, Italy), Junior Serge Martinsson Ngouali (IF Brommapojkarna, Sweden), Levy Clément Madinda (Gimnàstic, Spain), Guélor Kanga Kaku (Red Star Belgrade, Serbia), Merlin Tandjigora (Meixian Hakka FC, China), Didier Ibrahim Ndong (Sunderland, England), Samson Mbingui (Raja Casablanca, Morocco)

Forwards: Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund, Germany), Malick Evouna (Tianjin Teda FC, China), Denis Athanase Bouanga (Tours, France), Serge Kevyn Aboue Angoue (Uniao Leiria, Portugal), Cedric Ondo Biyoghe (CF Mounana)

Burkina Faso: How far can they go?

In 2013, Burkina Faso shocked Africa by making it to the AFCON final. It was an impressive result, especially considering that their best ever result prior to that was a fourth placed finish during the 1998 edition. Nicknamed Les Étalons (The Stallions), Burkina Faso have featured at 10 prior AFCON tournaments. Nine of these were as Burkina Faso, whilst one was when they were known as Upper Volta, and they secured their spot at their 11th tournament by winning four out of their six group stage games to top their quartet.

As of this month, Burkina Faso are ranked 50th in the world as per FIFA's list, and their highest-ever placement was 59th, which was achieved back in September 2014. Yes, Burkina Faso are actually ranked higher than hosts Gabon, which may surprise some. But will they be able to back that higher ranking up with a good performance in a few days' time?

Currently, Burkina Faso are led by Duarte Paulo, who played for several clubs in his native Portugal before moving into management. Here's the group who have been called up for the tournament:

Goalkeepers: Moussa Germain Sanou (Beauvais/FRA), Herve Koffi (ASEC Mimosas/CIV), Aboubacar Sawadogo (RC Kadiogo/BUR)

Defenders: Patrick Malo (Smouha/EGY), Issoufou Dayo (RC Berkane/MAR), Bakary Kone (Malaga/ESP), Issouf Paro (Santos/RSA), Steeve Yago (Toulouse/FRA), Souleymane Kouanda, (ASEC Mimosas/CIV), Yacouba Coulibaly (RC Bobo/BUR) 

Midfielders: Charles Kabore (Krasnodar/RUS), Prejuce Nacoulma (Kayserispor/TUR), Alain Traore (Kayserispor/TUR), Bertrand Traore (Ajax/NED), Cyrille Bayala (Sheriff Tiraspol/MDA), Bakary Sare (Moreirense/POR), Blati Toure (Omonia/CYP), Adama Guira (Lens/FRA), Abdoul Razack Traore (Karabuspor/TUR), Jonathan Zongo (Almeria/ESP)

Forwards: Jonathan Pitroipa (Al Nasr/UAE), Aristide Bance (ASEC Mimosas/CIV), Banou Diawara (Smouha/EGY)

Cameroon: Can the Indomitable Lions roar once again?

It goes without saying that Cameroon has been a side in flummox as of late. For starters, the team's current manager, Hugo Broos, got the job after doing what many of us have done: he saw the position online, applied, and eventually was hired. The Belgian tactician, however, has not had it easy. Although Les Lions Indomptables are arguably one of Africa's most successful sides, with four AFCON wins, the team were thrown into a major crisis when a slew of players decided not to feature for the team due to club commitments.

Eight, in fact, now risk the ire of their nation's football federation. Two of them include Eric Maxime Choupo-Moting (Schalke) and Joel Matip (Liverpool), as well as Andre Onana (Ajax Amsterdam,) Guy Roland Ndy Assembe (Nancy), Allan Nyom (West-Bromwich-Albion), Maxime Poundje (Girondins-Bordeaux), Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Olympique-Marseille) and Ibrahim Amadou (Lille).

Cameroon, who are ranked 65th in the world, secured their spot here by getting through their group stage qualifiers without much fuss, where they won four and drew two, but all in all, their quartet was certainly not the toughest, with South Africa, Gambia, and Mauritania for company. And with the kind of players at Cameroon's disposal, it would have been really shocking if they hadn't qualified!

Here's who decided not to reject a call-up and represent Cameroon at the 2017 AFCON tournament:

Goalkeepers: Fabrice Ondoa (FC Séville, Spain), Jules Goda (AC Ajaccio, France), Georges Mbokwe (Coton Sport de Garoua)

Defenders: Nicolas Nkoulou (Lyon, France), Ambroise Oyongo (Impact Montréal, Canada), Mohamed Djeitei (Nastic Tarragone, Spain), Fai Collins (Standard Liège, Belgium, Michael Ngadeu Ngadjui (Slavia Prague, Check Républic), Adolphe Teikeu (Sochaux, France), Jonathan Ngwem (FC Progresso, Angola), Ernest Mabouka (MSK Zilina, Slovakia)

Midfielders: Sébastien Siani (Ostende, Belgium), Georges Mandjeck (Metz, France), Arnaud Djoum (Heart of Midlothian, Scotland), Franck Boya (Apejes)

Forwards: Vincent Aboubakar (Besiktas, Turkey), Benjamin Moukandjo (Lorient, France), Jacques Zoua (Kaiserslautern, Germany), Edgar Salli (Saint-Gall, France), Karl Toko-Ekambi (Angers, France), Clinton Njie (Marseille, France), Robert Ndip Tambe (Spartak Trnava, Slovakia), Christian Bassogog (Aalborg, Denmark)

Guinea Bissau: What surprises do the debutants have in store?

In every tournament, there are bound to be some debutants. EURO 2016 had plenty, including Iceland and Wales, who won themselves many more new fans thanks to some impressive displays. AFCON 2017's sole debutant will be Guinea Bissau. Recently, they did face some problems off the pitch due to an on-going player strike based on unpaid wages, but for now, reports indicate that has been settled.

Ranked 68th in the world, they narrowly secured their spot by topping Group E with ten points. In doing so, they edged out Congo, Zambia, and Kenya to make history and this will be their first ever major tournament. Yes, that's right. Guinea-Bissau have never qualified for a World Cup, an Olympics, or any other major footballing competition. It goes without saying that Baciro Candé's lads are viewed as one of this tournament's minnows, but as we have all seen, even the minnows have teeth!

As such, will they be able to cause some surprises in their first ever appearance on the big stage? It will be interesting to see, however, if the recent strike will have any impact on the players' mentalities as they kick off their debut AFCON tournament in a few days' time.

Here's who will be representing the Djurtus at AFCON 2017:

Goalkeepers: Jonas Mendes (Salgueiros, Portugal), Rui Dabo (Cova da Piedade, Portugal), Papa Massé Mbaye Fall (Aguadulce, Spain)

Defenders: Emmanuel Mendy (Ceahlaul, Romania), Rudinilson Silva (Lechia Gdansk, Poland), Juary Soares (Mafra, Portugal), Agostinho Soares (Sporting Covilha, Portugal), Mamadu Candé (Tondela, Portugal), Eridson Mendes Umpeça (Freamunde, Portugal)

Midfielders: Nani Soares (Felgueiras, Portugal), Jose Mendes Lopes Zezinho (Levadiakos, Greece), Bocoundji Ca (Reims, France), Tony Silva Brito (Levadiakos, Greece), Toni Silva (Levadiakos, Greece), Piqueti Djassi Brito (Braga), Idrissa Camara (Avellino, Italy), Jean Paul Mendy (US Quevilly-Rouen, France), Francisco Santos Junior (Strømsgodset, Norway), Lassana Camara Sana (Académico de Viseu, Portugal)

Forwards: Joao Mario Fernandes (Chaves, Portugal), Abel Issa Camara (Belenenses, Portugal), Amido Baldé (CS Marítimo, Portugal), Frederic Mendy (Ulsan Hyundai, South Korea)

Group A: Fixtures and times

Below you will find all the fixtures and times for the games in Group A, starting from January 14th:


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