The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, popularly known as Afcon, is approaching its end. This edition of Africa’s biggest competition has been phenomenal. It has been the year of the underdogs, as Ivory Coast, Algeria and Senegal crashed out of the tournament. On the other hand, Burkina Faso, Ghana and Cameroon have made it to the semi finals of the tournament, alongside Egypt. In the semi finals, Burkina Faso will face Egypt on the 1st of February, with Ghana and Cameroon locking horns a day after.
Egypt have been the most successful team in the tournament’s history with seven titles. And with Senegal and Ivory Coast out, they are heavy favourites to win the tournament. Egypt have many stars, including Arsenal midfielder Mohamed el Nenny and Roma forward Mohamed Salah. They will be heavily dependent on both of them to provide the spark needed in attack. While at the back, veteran goalkeeper Essam el Hadary, at the age of 44, will be crucial.
On the other hand, Burkina Faso will depend on their 21-year-old striker Bertrand Traore for the goals. The team has been playing beautiful football, and their manager Paul Duarte has acknowledged that, “I’m very happy because every day my team is better. We are playing very good football.” Duarte also revealed that his idol Jose Mourinho congratulated him on reaching the semis. Both Duarte and Mourinho started their careers at Uniao Leiria. But Duarte is still looking for his first title, with Burkina Faso the only team in the semi finals to have never won the Afcon.
Cameroon and Ghana have been the second most successful teams in competition’s history, with four titles. Ghana will be hoping that Asamoah Gyan reaches his 50 goals for the country, as the experienced striker has been pivotal for Ghana in every major tournament. The Ayew brothers have been in good form as well. Both of them grabbed a goal in the 2-1 quarter final win over DR Congo.
Cameroon have been the real underdogs, as the team doesn’t boast of any major star. With the retirement of Samuel Eto’o, Besiktas striker Vincent Aboubakar has been the focal point of the team. His form will be important for Cameroon if they are to have any chance of winning this year’s championship.