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Race for goals and glory in Gabon

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Race for goals and glory in Gabon 01/17/2017

Gabon kick off the party against Guinea-Bissau, hoping to improve on their quarter-finals achievement of 2012 when Gabon co-hosted the tournament with Equatorial Guinea. This time Gabon will be lead by Dortmund star striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in a comparatively straightforward group, including Burkina Faso and Cameroon.

The Indomitable Lions have been one of the participants hardest hit by the usual Club versus Country rows. Joel Matip of Liverpool was one of seven players who told coach Hugo Broos they were not interested in being selected for the tournament. With World Cup qualifiers in mind, Cameroon will not be seeking disciplinary action.

The tournament will feature 368 players from clubs in 68 countries, including Canada, the Middle East and Vietnam. Clubs in England and France have lost 89 players to the three-week event.

Riyad Mahrez, named African Footballer of the Year last week, and his Algerian compatriot Islam Slimani may be absent for weeks from club football with English champions Leicester City as the duo will represent Algeria in group B, the tournament’s group of death, with Senegal, Tunisia and Zimbabwe.

Senegal are Africa’s top-ranked team and had a 100pc record in the qualifiers, but the Lions of Teranga have consistently underperformed at the finals tournament.

In group C, favorites Ivory Coast had financial problems until President Alassane Ouattara stepped in with a campaign warchest of €6m. The defending champions have been matched with Togo, DR Congo and Morocco. They kick off their tournament against Togo on January 16 in Oyem.

In the 2015 final the Ivoriens defeated Ghana on penalties.

Group D sees the return of seven-times African champions Egypt after missing the last three tournaments. They face Ghana, Mali and Uganda. The Ghanaians endured muddled preparation, with perpetual doubts about the permanence of manager Avram Grant.

Whoever wins final on February 4 will carry off $4million in prize money.


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