The draws for the 2017 Africa cup of Nations were conducted yesterday in Cairo-Egypt with Cameroon inheriting a tricky draw. Cameroon was pooled in group M alongside South Africa, Gambia and Mauritius Island. On paper, Cameroon can be considered favourites of the group having won the competition four times.
But the upset may come from South Africa who are seen as a rising power on the continent. They organised and won the tournament in 1996, emerged runners up in 1998 and attained the quarter finals of the last edition of the tournament in Equatorial Guinea.
Gambia on the contrary has not been a regular participant in the tournament and has never qualified for the final round of the Africa Cup of Nations. In May 2014 Gambia was banned from all CAF competitions for two years for deliberately falsifying the ages of players. The Mauritius Island is also a Lilliputian in African football and qualified only once for the final round of the Africa Cup of Nations in 1974. Hence the tussle for the group ticket to the 2017 AFCON will boil down to a duel between Cameroon and South Africa.
Cameroon begins the campaign to Gabon 2017 by playing host to the Mauritius Island during the weekend running from June 12th to 14th. Then they will travel to Gambia in September to challenge the local side. In March 2016, the Lions will play host to the Bafana Bafana of South Africa at the Mfandena sports complex in the last away leg match. The return leg begins two weeks later with Cameroon this time travelling to South Africa.
In June 2016, they will travel to the Mauritius Island before playing the last qualifier game against Gambia at home. The innovation this year is that the host country, Gabon, will take part in the qualifiers but the results of their matches will not infer on the group classification. Only the group winner from that particular group will qualify for the final tournament. The first of each group qualifies alongside the best two runners-up will qualify for the final tournament.