AFCON 2015 Power Rankings – after the group stage

The power rankings are done in order of anticipated likelihood to win the tournament and qualify for the knockout round, taking into consideration both long-term results and recent form. Here is James Bennett with Sandals For Goalposts’ power rankings after the third round of matches:

1. Algeria (up 2)
After the surprise defeat to Ghana, the match against Senegal was a return to form for the favourites, who return to the top of the rankings.

2. Ghana (up 3)
A vital come-from-behind win against South Africa and the elimination of other major contenders has brought Ghana back into contention despite their earlier struggles.

3. Tunisia (down 2)
Though they are still struggling for goals and only picked up one win in perhaps the weakest group in the tournament, Tunisia remain the favourites to progress from the top half of the draw into the final.

4. Ivory Coast (up 3)
Les Elephants showed great character in holding onto a crucial win against Cameroon. Are they starting to build momentum towards a title push? Herve Renard knows what it takes to get there.

5. Senegal (down 1)
Despite a lack of creativity, Senegal are going home with 4 points in a tournament where two other teams are going through to the next round without winning a game. It’s harsh, but that’s tournament football.

6. Cameroon (down 4)
The big disappointment of the tournament. After all the promise of qualifying, Volker Finke undid all his hard work. This was a return to the Cameroon of the World Cup. No wins and an early flight home.

7. Mali (up 1)
But for Seydou Keita’s penalty miss, Mali might yet have avoided the drawing of lots and be heading for another quarter-final appearance. Henryk Kasperczak’s team are another to have been hard done by with the original group draw.

8. Guinea (up 1)
What a story this Guinea team is becoming! The revelation of the group stage along with their equatorial namesakes, they may not get any further in this competition but they have already far exceeded expectations.

9. Congo (up 4)
We thought the draw between Equatorial Guinea and Congo in the opener was two mediocre teams cancelling each other out. It turns out that may not have been the case, but I’m still not convinced Congo are that good.

10. Gabon (down 4)
After their first performance against Burkina Faso, it seemed reasonable to think that Gabon might actually be serious contenders. First appearances can be deceptive…

11. Cape Verde (down 1)
The Islanders go home unbeaten, but they also go home without having won a game, thanks to scoring too few goals. That pretty much sums up their tournament – hard to beat, but without the killer instinct to win matches.

12. Equatorial Guinea (up 2)
This might be considered quite controversial considering I’ve placed them below a team that they beat 2-0, but it’s because I’m not convinced they are actually better than Gabon. Over 6 or 9 matches, it might have been a different story.

13. South Africa (down 2)
We all enjoyed watching Bafana Bafana play, because they were one of the most expressive teams in a tournament that has so far been defined by tight, cagey games. But they were far too naive for their group.

14. DR Congo (up 1)
How are this team even through to the quarter-finals? Unbeaten, yes, but no wins. They’ve never even looked like winning. Pfft. At least Kidiaba gets a good send-off.

15. Burkina Faso (down 3)
The big disappointment of this Afcon. Perhaps we expected too much. For sure Pitroipa wasn’t on form and Alain Traore wasn’t fit. And Bance was terrible. It just didn’t happen this time. But they’ll be back.

16. Zambia (no change)
Bottom of arguably the weakest group and deservedly so. This was all set in motion by failing to kill off DR Congo in the first game. As a result, the Leopards somehow go through, and the 2012 champions are heading home, with no one particularly sorry about that.

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