Our Opponents

Morocco/Atlas Lions

FIFA Ranking: 47
CAF Ranking: 4
Afcon Best Place: Champions 1976
Player To Watch: Hakim Ziyech Forward/Ajax Amsterdam
Odds: 13/1

Ivory Coast/The Elephants

FIFA Ranking: 62
CAF Ranking: 11
Afcon Best Place: Champions 1992, 2015
Player To Watch: Wilfried Zaha Forward/Crystal Palace
Odds: 11/1

Namibia/Brave Warriors

FIFA Ranking: 113
CAF Ranking: 28
Afcon Best Place: Group Stage 1998, 2008
Player To Watch: Hotto Kavendji Midfielder/Bidvest Wits
Odds: 251/1

Bafana Bafana Squad

Goalkeepers

Darren Keet (Bidvest Wits), Ronwen Williams (SuperSport United), Bruce Bvuma (Kaizer Chiefs)

Defenders

Daniel Cardoso (Kaizer Chiefs), Ramahlwe Mphahlele (Kaizer Chiefs), Thulani Hlatshwayo (Bidvest Wits), Innocent Maela (Orlando Pirates), S’fiso Hlanti (Bidvest Wits), Buhleyeza Mkhwanazi (Bidvest Wits), Thamsanqa Mkhize (Cape Town City)

Midfielders

Bongani Zungu (Amiens), Dean Furman (SuperSport United), Kamohelo Mokotjo (Brentford), Tiyani Mabunda (Mamelodi Sundowns), Thulani Serero (Vitesse Arnhem), Thembinkosi Lorch (Orlando Pirates), Themba Zwane (Mamelodi Sundowns), Hlompho Kekana (Mamelodi Sundowns)

Forwards

Lebo Mothiba (Strasbourg), Percy Tau (Brighton & Hove Albion), Lars Veldwijk (Sparta Rotterdam), Lebogang Maboe (Mamelodi Sundowns), Sibusiso Vilakazi (Mamelodi Sundowns)

Head Coach: Stuart Baxter

FIFA Ranking: 72
CAF Ranking: 14
Afcon Best Place: Champions 1996
Odds: 34/1

The Favourites

Egypt/The Pharaohs

FIFA Ranking: 58
CAF Ranking: 8
Afcon Best Place: Champions 1957, 1959, 1986, 1998, 2006, 2008, 2010
Player To Watch: Mohammed Salah Forward/Liverpool
Odds: 5/1

Senegal/Teranga Lions

FIFA Ranking: 22
CAF Ranking: 1
Afcon Best Place: Runners Up 2002
Player To Watch: Sadio Mane Forward/Liverpool
Odds: 15/2

Ghana/Black Stars

FIFA Ranking: 50
CAF Ranking: 6
Afcon Best Place: Champions 1963, 1965, 1978, 1978
Player To Watch: Thomas Partey Midfielder/Atletico Madrid
Odds: 8/1

Nigeria/Super Eagles

FIFA Ranking: 45
CAF Ranking: 3
Afcon Best Place: Champions 1980, 1994, 2013
Player To Watch: Wilfred Ndidi Midfielder/Leicester City
Odds: 9/1

Algeria/Desert Foxes

FIFA Ranking: 68
CAF Ranking: 12
Afcon Best Place: Champions 1990
Player To Watch: Riyad Mahrez Forward/Manchester City
Odds: 13/1

Bafana Bafana are big outsiders, not just according to the bookies, but the wider football world. The last time SA progressed beyond the group phase outside of home turf was in 2002. And the last Afcon tournament in Egypt was the horror show in 2006. Compounding the issue is the absence of two key players. Keagan Dolly has been ruled out due to injury, and Rivaldo Coetzee will miss the showpiece due to personal reasons. Progressing past the group phase will be the goal for this team, but in their way is two African juggernauts in Morocco and Ivory Coast.

Both teams are full of European based stars and will fancy their chances of winning the competition. The fourth team in the group, Namibia, possesses a number of players who ply their trade in the PSL. The Brave Warriors will know the South African team better than most. Stuart Baxter has been talking up a big game, and time will tell if his players can live up to the Englishman’s expectations. Whatever happens, this will be an exciting couple of weeks that will showcase the continents best players.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my in-depth analysis & enjoy the tournament.

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Sizwe Luthayi