The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations will be hosted by Gabon and it looks set to be one of the most exciting tournaments for some time.
Many of the big names have qualified but for one exception, Nigeria. Having won the tournament in 2013, it will be strange to see the Africa Cup of Nations without Nigeria taking part but having failed to qualify from a group containing Egypt, the Super Eagles must make do with a watching brief.
So, without Nigeria taking part, who are the favourites to win the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations?
Looking at Group A and hosts, Gabon, will fancy their chances of progressing to the quarter-finals. They find themselves in a group with Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Guinea-Bissau. Cameroon have several big-name players sitting this tournament out, which will come as a big disappointment to them and it could open the door for Burkina Faso, although it will still be a surprise if Cameroon do not join Gabon in the knock-out stages.
Group B is home to two of the tournament favourites, Senegal and Algeria. Both teams have a great group of exciting players, with Riyad Mahrez, El Arabi Hillel Soudani and Islam Slimani representing Algeria and Sadio Mane, Cheikhou Kouyate and Kalidou Koulibaly playing for Senegal. Both Tunisia and Zimbabwe will struggle to make it out of group B.
Moving on to Group C and as favourites to win the tournament, you must back Ivory Coast to qualify from this group, containing DR Congo, Morocco and Togo. A look at the chances of the remaining three teams, shows DR Congo as the most likely to progress, having finished third at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations and won the African Championship of Nations last year.
Finally, on to Group D and there appears to be two clear favourites to progress from this group. Both Ghana and Egypt look capable of going deep at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and should have little problem in qualifying from a group containing Mali and Uganda. However, if Mali can get a positive result against either Egypt or Ghana, they have Uganda to play in their final match and could cause an upset by sending one of the giants of African football home early. If there is to be one upset in the group stage, it could be the qualification of Mali at the expense of either Ghana or Egypt.
Once into the quarter-finals, the quality of the teams will be evenly matched and we are set for some very competitive games. Ivory Coast, Senegal, Algeria, Egypt and Ghana all have a good chance of winning the tournament, with hosts Gabon making for a tempting outsider. Out of these teams, Algeria offer the best value, having performed well in the last World Cup and Africa Cup of Nations.
The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations look set to be a tremendous tournament, with several teams believing they have what it takes to win the event.