Firstly, the hosts from Gabon were eliminated in a group won by Burkina Faso ahead of Cameroon. The most talked about was the elimination of the Gabonese, but credit to a tournament-oriented Burkinabe side and a Cameroon side of indomitable lions who have not gone beyond first round since 2010.
Gabon's elimination was not as sensational as that of the highly rated Algerians, who with a team full of stars were expected to make it far. But a defeat to Tunisia and ties to Senegal and Algeria saw them out with meager 2 points, while an exciting Senegal side won the group ahead of Tunisia.
Another big team eliminated were the defending champions of Ivory Coast. Much was also expected, but like the Algerians they also only managed 2 points with ties against DR Congo and Togo, while losing 0-1 to Morocco in the last all-important match. Morocco are not exciting to watch, but solid, and Ivory Coast's stars seemed to underestimate them. The big surprise was probably the DR Congo, who ended up winning the group ahead of Morocco, and will be one of the sides to watch.
In the last group Egypt and Ghana did what they were expected to do, easily outplaying Mali and Uganda and playing for first place tonight, in a match Egypt won 1-0, playing very intelligently against a Ghana side that could surely go all the way with its experience and talent.
With this great first round, we now have the following quarterfinals:
- Burkina Faso-Tunisia
- DR Congo-Ghana
Although I will not be in Africa to follow all the quarterfinals, be sure I will!