It has been fortuitous that hosts Les Pantheres have Burkina Faso and Cameroon to contend with and will open the tournament on Saturday at Stade l ’ Amitie with a game against the much under-prepared minnows Guinea Bissau ‚ who are making their Nations Cup debut.
Coach Hugo Broos has tinkered considerably with his team since his first game in charge against South Africa in Limbe in March last year ‚ weeding out the lethargic and introducing younger talent.
Broos had hoped to have the likes of Joel Matip and Eric Maxim Choupo Moting at the Nations Cup tournament ‚ but the two Germanborn players wanted to stay with their clubs.
So did another six other Cameroon players ‚ including first choice fullback Allan Nyom of Watford ‚ who are also not going. Burkina Faso are a side with formidable talent and plenty of experience.
‘ Les Etalon ’ finished surprise runners-up at the finals in South Africa four years ago and key elements of that team remain – hardtackling captain Charles Kabore ‚ player of the 2013 tournament Jonathan Pitroipa and the Traore brothers.
Guinea Bissau repeatedly flouted conventional wisdom in booking their place at the finals and have gone about their pre-tournament preparations in similar fashion.
The West African country is ranked among the poorest of the world by the United Nations and money is always an issue for the team.