Final Four of the Africa Cup of Nations

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2017 is the year of very few international football tournaments since the main spotlight will be on the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup in Russia next year,but it doesn’t mean that the excitement of international football will be on the qualifiers.One of he tournaments playing this year and which will culminate this Sunday in the final is the African Nations Cup which is now in its 31st edition which this year is hosted by Gabon.The current holder of the Africa Cup of Nations which is the Ivory Coast was booted out of the tournament in the group stage,two years after being champions in he 30th edition which was hosted by Equatorial Guinea.In this year’s edition in Gabon,the Elephants came as title holders and left disappointed by only collecting two points in the group stage which had to be a cake walk for them.Instead it turned to be a disaster,after the first match which was a 0-0 draw against Togo and a 2-2 against DR Congo,the Elephants placed the bet on their final group match against Morocco and lost 1-0 wheich meant an early exit from the tournament.This means on Sunday we are going to find out the new champion of the black continent.The four teams remaining are Burkina Faso which a surprise and the traditional powers of African football:Ghana,Cameroon and Egypt.We are starting with he surprise of the tournament which is Burkina Faso,four years ago the Stallions have made history when they made it to their first ever final of the Africa Cup of Nations which they have lost against Nigeria by a single goal,in this year’s edition they made it to the semifinal where they are going to face seven-time champion Egypt which for them will be a very tough opponent,but if they defeat the Pharaohs only sky will be the limit for the Stallions to win their first ever Africa Cup of Nations title.In the group stage the Stallions finished first in their group thanks to goal difference besides having the same number of points as 2nd placed Cameroon and in the quarterfinals they defeated Tunisia 2-0 to book a place among the final four of the tournament.Egypt is the record champion of the Africa Cup of Nations winning the tournament a record seven times,most recently in 2010 when they won the Africa Cup of Nations for a third consecutive time,after missing three tournaments because they didn’t qualified,the Pharaohs made it to this year’s edition with legendary Argentinian coach Hector Cuper on the bench which took over the bench two years ago,so far the Pharaohs are playing good under him.In this year’s edition they made to the semifinals after being first in their group which wasn’t an easy task because they scored only two goals in the group stage and won their quarterfinal match against Morocco my a single goal,obviously scoring goals remains a problem among the Pharaohs becuase they are extremly dependent on AS Roma striker Mohammad Salah which is the bst player by far among the Pharaohs and they dream their eight Africa Cup of Nations title which will be their 1st since their last triumph in 2010.The Black Stars of Ghana were 2nd in their group and like Pharaohs they scored a few goals,besides a 2-1 victory over DR Congo in the quarterfinals,they are led by former Chelsea coach Avram Grant which took over the bench in 2014.The Black Stars are waiting to win the Africa Cup of Nations since 1982 when they won their fourth and last to date tournament,two years ago in Equatorial Guinea the Black Stars finished 2nd after beign defeated by the Ivory Coast on penalty shootouts in the final,in the semifinals they are facing a grudge match against the Lions of Cameroon which is one of the biggest matches in African football and would be interesting to see who will make it to the final.The Lions of Cameroon are waiting since 2002 to win the Africa Cup of Nations when they last triumphed and after the 2nd place in the 2008 edition they were in the wilderness where they didn’t even qualified for two consecutive editions in 2012 and 2013,but this year they have returned among Africa’s elite.Led by Belgian coach Hugo Broos who took over the bench last year,the Lions finished 2nd in their group besides having the same number of points with Burkina Faso and in the quarterfinals they defeated Senegal in penalty shootouts,on Wednesday in Franceville they are going against on of their bitter rivals which is Ghana trying to book a place in the final which they didn’t played since their last triumph in 2002.All is now down to this week when a new Africa Cup of Nations champion will be crowned on the final in Libreville on Sunday and the only question remains who will inherit the Ivory Coast which two years ago triumphed.

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