10 countries have so far made it to the final tournament of the 2015 African Cup of Nations due January 17 to February 8, in Equatorial Guinea after Morocco opted not to host the tournament due to fears of an Ebola outbreak.

After Saturday’s matches in the fifth round of the 2015 African Cup of Nations qualifiers, nine countries excluding hosts, Equatorial Guinea, ought to start preparing for the final showpiece even though they still remain with one encounter each to close out the qualification rounds.

EQUATORIAL GUINEA

Equatorial Guinea replaced former hosts Morocco after the nation withdrew from hosting the continental showdown due to fears of an Ebola outbreak.CAF immediately discontinued Morocco after an executive meeting which sat in Cairo, Egypt and promised further sanctions which are yet to be communicated.

Equatoria Guinea qualified as co-hosts for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations after their bid was successful with Gabon. That particular apperance was their first in the tournament and progressed to the quarter finals where they were eliminated by the tournaments runners-up Ivory Coast after losing to The Elephants 3-0.

In qualification for the 2015 edition, Equatorial Guinea lost 1-0 away and won 3-0 at home to Mauritania, progressing for a tie against Uganda’s national team, the Cranes but were expelled for fielding ineligible players some with passports and false names.

ALGERIA

The desert Warriors will feature in the tournament after having qualified last month with two matches to spare from group B. Brahimi Yacine’s opener in the first minute against Malawi, Mahred Riyad’s halftime strike and Slimani Islam’s second half winner ensured the 1990 champions make finals appearance for the fourteenth time since 1968. Algeria faced Egypt in the semi-finals of the 2013 edition in South Africa losing 4–0, the biggest defeat in the history of the teams’ meetings. Algeria lost 1–0 to Nigeria in the third place game and finished fourth in the competition.

SOUTH AFRICA

Goals from Thulani Serero his first in international football and Tokelo Rantie confirmed Bafana Bafana’s passage to the tournament, a win over Sudan that was dedicated to the late Senzo Meyiwa, a national team captain and Orlando Pirates goal keeper. Meyiwa was shot in Johannesburg in the presence of his girl friend Kelly Khumalo, following an altercation, while one man waited outside. The president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, mourned the loss of Meyiwa and he received a provincial funeral and a guard of honor in the streets as his body was driven from Umlazi his home to the stadium. This will be the nations 9th apperance since 1996 when they featured in their first. South Africa emerge winners in 1996 a tournament they also hosted. South Africa replaced hosts Kenya and beat Tunisia in the final 2-0 to claim the top honours. Mark William of the Bafana Bafana scored a brace in the 73rd and 75th minute in the match that was officiated by Charles Masembe of Uganda. They also hosted the 2013 edition where they stopped at the quarter final stage after loss to Mali.

BURKINA FASO

After edging Lesotho 1-0, the 2013 runners up made it to the final showdown of the 2015 Afcon from Group C , this marking their tenth appearance since 1978. They subsquently qualified for five consecutive tourmanents between 1996 and 2004, reaching the semi finals when the tournament was held on home soil in 1998. Burkina Faso played in group B of the 2010 edition alongside Ghana and Ivory Coast in a three team group due to Togo’s withdrawal although they needed just a draw against Ghana, they lost one nil and failed to qualify for the knock stage.

GABON

Gabon settled for a goalless draw with Angola to progress from Group C. They have qualified five times and this will be their 6th appearance since 1994 when they took part for the first time. In 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, Gabon shocked Cameroon one nil but failed to progress after a loss to Zambia. In 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, they won all their group matches and lost 5-4 in penalties in the quarterfinal against Mali after a 1-1 draw.

CAMEROON

The indomitable Lions beat Democratic Republic Of Congo 1-0 on Saturday to earn a place in the 2015 African Cup of Nations from group D. They lead with 13 points and even if Congo DR win, they will remain top since Congo currently have 6 points. They first qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations in 1970 but were knocked out in the first round. Two years later, as host nation, the Lions finished third after being knocked out by the future champions Congo in the 1972 edition. They have won four African Cup of Nations titles.

CAPE VERDE ISLANDS

The blue Sharks advanced with a 3-1 home win over Niger and will be featuring for the second time after making the final tournament in the latest 2013 edition that was held in South Africa. Cape Verde qualified after stunning Cameroon 3–2 on aggregate. Ghana ended the nations exceptional Afcon campaign in the quarterfinals after the side lost 2-0 with Wakaso Mubarak scoring a penalty kick for Ghana in the 54′ minute, and then scoring again in the closing minute of the game.

TUNISIA

The Eagles of Carthage have also qualified with a match to spare following their goal-less draw with Botswana. They lead group G with 11 points and can finish second at worst because Egypt in third has 6 points and second placed Senegal have 10 points. A win for either side still guarantees the outfit opportunity to take part in the continents show piece. This will unfold as their 17th appearance for the tournament having emerged winners in 2004 when they hosted the tournament. They first took part in 1962 and stopped in round one of the 2013 edition in South Africa.

SENEGAL

This is the other country that has made it from Group G after accumulating 10 points and currently in second place. They overcame Egypt 1-0 away from home to earn a spot for participation in the 2015 showpiece. The Lions of Teranga will be featuring for the 13th time since participating for the first time in 1965. Their best result in the Africa Cup of Nations was in 2002 when the outfit finished in Second place.

ZAMBIA

The Chipolopolo joined Cape Verde Islands from group F with a 1-0 success against Mozambique. Given Singuluma’s goal guided the nation to next years showdown which will be their 17th Africa Cup of Nations appearance since their first in 1974. Even though Zambia lose and third placed Mozambique win, the duo will be locked at 8 points but Zambia will progress since they have a superior head to head statistic.

Zambia defeated three time finalists Cote d’Ivoire after a dramatic penalty shootout in the final of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, giving the South African nation their first continental title and also becoming the fourteenth country to win the tournament.

Deputy Editor at Kawowo Sports. He is an aspiring Sport Psychologist.

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