AFCON 2022 power rankings: Nigeria perfect, Cameroon surprisingly strong, fiery Comoros underdogs

And then there were 16. AFCON 2021 is now in the knockout phase. It’s do or die, win or go home. You know, all that typical verbiage, now is the time. We had upheaval, drama, heartbreak, joy, pain, happiness and plenty of lack of seriousness during the group stage.

As we enter the knockout stage, here is a power ranking.

1. Nigeria

Three weeks before the start of the tournament, Nigeria fired Gernot Rohr, lost star striker Victor Osimhen, ensured that Emmanuel Dennis did not join the team and lost a few other players who withdrew from the squad. ‘team. Yet here we are. In form, they are the best team. Led by Moses Simon on the wing, Wilfred Ndidi and Joe Aribo in midfield, and anchored by Kenneth Omeruo and William Troost-Ekong, Nigeria are the only AFCON side to have won all three matches they have argued so far. Despite their woes before the tournament started, the Super Eagles enter the knockouts as favorites. Will they win or will they die out?

2. Cameroon

The hosts introduce themselves. They won two and drew as they trailed tournament top scorer Vincent Aboubakar and midfield dynamo Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa. Cameroon looks great. Feeding on their public and their newly elected football president Samuel Eto’, Cameroon have everything to win another AFCON. They rarely lose in Yaoundé and there it is intimidating for anyone who comes to play against the Indomitable Lions.

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3. Ivory Coast

On paper, this is probably the strongest team in the whole tournament, isn’t it? But the Ivory Coast defense has at times looked shaky even as they showed against Algeria that they have the firepower to punish teams at will. Then, a match against Egypt awaits them. Take your popcorn.

4. Morocco

Another team that has plenty of talent on paper, Morocco may not have reached the heights expected of them, but they qualified and that’s all that matters. They beat Ghana and Comoros, but would have lost to Gabon had it not been for timely, unserious defending and a sparkling free kick from Achraf Hakimi. Can Morocco show the world why people appreciate them so much?

5. Mali

They look good! Their midfield, led by Yves Bissouma and Amadou Haidara, is a stronghold and they look like a real team. You shouldn’t be shocked by this display from Mali though, they have won several championships at youth level with many of these players and they are only continuing their success. A deep run should shock no one.

6. Equatorial Guinea

One of the pleasant surprises of the tournament, they ended Algeria’s unbeaten streak and beat another surprisingly competitive side, Sierra Leone. Facing Mali will be tough. However, Equatorial Guinea is proud of itself and its country. Beating Algeria puts you high in any power ranking, even if they don’t end up going any further than that.

7. Senegal

One of the tournament favourites, they were hit hard by COVID just before the tournament started, and as their talented players returned at the end of the group stage, something seems right. disabled with this team. Senegal are a very talented team on paper, but they were quite disappointing in the group stages, only scoring one goal, a Sadio Mane penalty. The problem with football is that things are quickly forgotten when you do well, so can Senegal click and make things work?

8. Egypt

Egypt started the tournament looking very shaky, being outplayed by Nigeria and saved by their goalkeeper. The 1-0 score they lost was very flattering. Egypt won with only two goals, but the most important thing is that they are in the round of 16. Egypt faces another challenge now in Ivory Coast. In its current form, this on paper looks like it’s over before it starts, but it’s CAN. Things happen.

9. Guinea

They are mixed, they have talented players but really haven’t done much. Naby Keita scored a golazo. Their midfield is talented and they have beaten Malawi, equaled Senegal and lost to Zimbabwe. A match against Gambia is a very tasty match.

10. Gabon

This is the definition of a team. Gabon have lost captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Mario Lemina has retired and they are in the round of 16. They showed heart, beating Comoros, coming back against Ghana and nearly beating Morocco. Gabon take on Burkina Faso and this one is a draw, making it an exciting game for those with no allegiance to either side.

11. The Gambia

Always remember “the” before saying Gambia. It’s another team with a great history in the AFCON. That’s what makes this tournament special, an exciting tournament that can score bangers. Ask Tunisia. A game against Guinea is a game to watch.

12.Burkina Faso

Led by captain Bertrand Traoré, Burkina Faso didn’t score much in the tournament, averaging one goal per game, but they are in the knockout stage and that’s all that matters. They showed glimpses of the quality they possess, especially in their opener against Cameroon, holding on and even taking an early lead before eventually losing 2-1.

13. Tunisia

The North Africans were knocked out of the park by Mali in their opener but they responded well by beating Mauritania 4-0 then before COVID hit. They lost to Gambia 1-0 and with a group of their star players it looks very fragile ahead of their game against Nigeria.

14. Cape Verde

A team most are new to, but as someone who saw them against Nigeria, that’s no surprise. Led by Garry Rodrigues, Cape Verde has a lot of heart. They drew against Cameroon, but where do the goals come from? They have scored just twice in three matches so far. They will face tournament favorites Senegal in the round of 16, a perfect storm from a neutral perspective.

15. Comoros

Probably the history of the tournament. Their first AFCON, never scored a goal, two tough defeats, showing they can fight but not necessarily they can win and then boom, three goals against Ghana to send the African giants home in a thrilling final of group stage 3-2. Comoros history is why we watch football, the definition of the beautiful game. They are now on the map, literally, people are finding out where Comoros is and what it is all about.

16.Malawi

They started the tournament losing to Guinea but immediately rallied, coming from behind and beating Zimbabwe. They held Senegal to a 0-0 draw. Malawi should be very happy and proud to qualify for the knockout stage. They will next face Morocco and it’s a tough battle for everyone, not to mention Malawi.

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