ALGERIA (Fifa ranking 38/CAF ranking 5)
The Algerians, who are coached by George Leekens, have flattered to deceive over the years, failing to live up to expectations despite being constantly high on the CAF rankings.
Their pace and creativity in attack – from Yassin Brahimi and Riyad Mahrez – as well as their organised defence, are parts of their game that can get them to the next round.
Coach Henryk Kasperczak needs European players such as Wahbi Khazri and Aymen Abdennour to deliver, but they can also bank on midfielder Hamza Lahmar who chipped in with some important goals for his club Etoile du Sahel during last year’s CAF Confederation Cup.
Upfront they’ve got Sadio Mane, Mohamed Diame and Moussa Sow as options. Now coach Aliou Cisse has to find a winning formula to ensure they win their maiden AFCON title.
Zimbabwe have had to wait a decade to return to the competition and they are keen to leave a lasting impression at this year’s showpiece. Certainly, not a team to be underestimated, Zimbabwe have an attack good enough to break down any defence.
Knowledge Musona, Tendai Ndoro, Nyasha Mushekwi, Cuthbert Malajila, Evans Rusike and Khama Billiat all have goals stacked in them. Coach Callisto Pasuwa’s Warriors have also proven to be solid at the back, conceding four times in six qualifiers.