AFCON 2017 Power Rankings – after two games

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 second round of matches:

1. Ghana (up 1)
While not the best team we have seen so far, Ghana have done enough to progress and have looked relatively comfortable, playing within themselves and keeping the opposition at arm’s length. A combination of knockout know-how and overall ability leaves them as the favourites at this stage.

2. Senegal (up 6)
Easily the most impressive team of the group stage so far, the Teranga Lions are now conceivable winners. They are excelling in all areas of the pitch, although Mame Biram Diouf’s finishing leaves a lot to be desired. The question is, can they cope with a good opposition defence in a knockout scenario?

3. Ivory Coast (down 2)
The holders have been one of the tournament’s biggest disappointments so far. Things just haven’t come together for Michel Dussuyer, who doesn’t seem to know his best team. They have still only won one game since the start of qualifying, and need a win to progress. However, this is the same scenario as two years ago, and we all know what happened then – don’t rule them out.

4. DR Congo (no change)
The Leopards remain unbeaten despite their two toughest matches – a fortunate win over Morocco was followed by a solid point against Ivory Coast, leaving them needing a point from the match against Togo to guarantee qualification. They haven’t shown the attacking verve of qualifying but they must be considered contenders given their good form.

5. Tunisia (up 2)
The Carthage Eagles’ win over neighbours Algeria will go down as a surprise, as the defeat to Senegal seemed to expose flaws in their attack and defence. Instead of facing elimination, Tunisia now look likely to progress, needing a point from the game against Zimbabwe, and must be considered a wild card to win the whole tournament.

6. Morocco (no change)
Herve Renard continues to do his magic as the Atlas Lions recovered well from a frustrating defeat to DR Congo and going behind to Togo to seal a convincing win against the Sparrowhawks. They only need to avoid defeat to Ivory Coast to go through, but that itself is a tough ask. They will need to be at their best.

7. Algeria (down 4)
Dear oh dear. Things went from bad to worse for Algeria as they followed up a massively disappointing draw with Zimbabwe with an even more humiliating defeat to Tunisia. They desperately need a win over DR Congo to go through, and it’s hard to see it on current form, especially with staff fighting with fans at the training ground!

8. Cameroon (up 1)
After coming into this tournament with low expectations and beginning it with a disappointing draw against Burkina Faso, the Indomitable Lions’ come-from-behind win over Guinea-Bissau might – might – have helped resurrect the hopes of one of Africa’s footballing giants. They just need a point against the hosts, who have been in poor form, to progress. They’re in with a slim shout.

9. Egypt (up 1)
After 178 minutes without either scoring or conceding, Abdullah El-Said sparked celebrations in Egypt with a first AFCON win in 7 years with his late goal against Uganda. The Pharaohs look solid at the back but will need a lot more from Mohamed Salah if they are to win this tournament.

10. Burkina Faso (up 1)
The 2013 finalists have once again shown their toughness by salvaging a point from their opening game against Cameroon and holding out the hosts in the second. They go into the match against the group minnows looking very likely to progress. They have injuries to key players, including Jonathan Pitroipa, but their resilience makes them potentially awkward opponents in the knockout rounds.

11. Gabon (down 6)
Boooooooo. The hosts have not endeared themselves to their fans with two disappointing draws. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has two goals but hasn’t played brilliantly, while Mario Lemina is out injured and the rest of the team is looking bang average. It’s now really hard to see them winning, or even making the knockout rounds, unless they get some classic AFCON host outside assistance.

12. Mali (no change)
Another AFCON, same old Mali, same old Alain Giresse. The wily Frenchman has sacrificed his talented youngsters to build a solid unit which has proven difficult to beat so far. But with Moussa Marega and Bakary Sako disappointing, they are going to have to rely on their defence – and the Ghana-Egypt result going their way – to get anywhere in this competition.

13. Togo (up 1)
Claude Le Roy’s Sparrowhawks looked to be in business when they stunned Morocco on the counter to go 1-0 up. But a quick capitulation demonstrated why this team aren’t contenders. Emmanuel Adebayor is not receiving much service and the defence looked leaky as they became the first team to concede 3 goals in one match in this tournament.

14. Guinea-Bissau (up 2)
After a hard-fought late draw in the tournament’s opening game against the hosts, Guinea-Bissau looked to be on course to become the fairytale story of this AFCON when they took the lead against Cameroon. However, they couldn’t quite hold on, and now need divine intervention if they are going to go through.

15. Zimbabwe (no change)
A very impressive start to this tournament saw Zimbabwe lead Algeria 2-1 at half time – and it was deserved too! Khama Billiat was living up to the hype, running the Algerians ragged. However, they couldn’t hold on, before being given the run-around by a determined Senegal team showing no mercy for the minnows. They could still progress, but a win over Tunisia seems extremely unlikely.

16. Uganda (down 3)
The Cranes became the first team eliminated from the tournament with an unfortunate late defeat to Egypt. They have been something of a disappointment so far, being yet to score and looking unlikely in their most recent match – crossing seeming like a particular struggle. It seems the step up to elite level football was too much this time, but they can be proud of their performances, particularly the defensive display against Egypt, which showed great resilience.

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