Six wins out of six. 100-per cent record for the Teranga Lions. Trailing them is Algeria, Mali and Morocco with five wins each and a draw from the six games. Not forgetting Egypt, who managed three wins from four matches.
A country of a population of less than 2 million, and was rarely spoken about in football circles until recently. In a group with former winners’ Congo and Zambia, they prevailed. Since the beginning of 2010, Guinea Bissau has played a total of 27 matches, an average of less than four games in a year.
Perseverance Prize: Uganda
Losing finalists in 1978, beaten by host Ghana 2-0 in the grand finale, Uganda had to wait for 39 years to realize qualification to the biggest stage in African football. This is a record in itself.
Consistency Prize: Tunisia
Qualification for 2017 means 13 qualifications in a row for the Carthage Eagles since 1994. Between the period, 1994 to 2015, Tunisia won the title at home beating Morocco in the final in 2004 and losing to South Africa in the final in 1996.
Best Attack: Algeria
Les Fennecs scored a total of 25 goals, an average of more than four goals per game and conceding five. Algeria beat Ethiopia 7-1 in Blida in one of the biggest wins of the qualifiers.
Stroke of Luck: Burkina Faso
Les Etalons left it late to confirm their ticket. And it came in the ninth minute of added time to beat Botswana 2-1 in Ouagadougou.
Cautious Kings: Cote d’Ivoire
The holders failed to live up to expectation in the qualifiers. In a group with Sierra Leone and Sudan, Les Elephants managed just one win and three draws, surviving a late scare from Sierra Leone in the final match which ended 1-1 in Bouake. Victory for Sierra Leone would have denied the Ivorians the opportunity to defend their title in Gabon. It serves a huge warning to the West Africans ahead next year’s final tournament and the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018.
Qualified teams: Gabon (host), Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, DR Congo, Egypt, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Morocco, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe
Former champions who qualified
Algeria (1990), Cameroon (1984, 1988, 2000, 2002), Cote d’Ivoire (1992, 2015), Egypt (1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008, 2010), Ghana (1963, 1965, 1978, 1982), Morocco (1976), Congo (1968, 1974), Tunisia (2004)
Former champions who failed to qualify
Ethiopia (1962), Sudan (1970), Congo (1972), Nigeria (1980, 1994, 2013), South Africa (1996), Zambia (2012)